Vietnam ready to rescue missing Malaysia jet: official

Thanh Nien News

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A Vietnam Air Force helicopter ready for take-off on the search and rescue mission in Tan Son Nhat Airport, Ho Chi Minh City.

But since the airplane went missing in Malaysian waters, Vietnam could not send rescue forces to the site without official requests from Malaysia, Major General Pham Hoai Giang, director of the Ministry of Defense’s Department for Search and Rescue, was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying.
He said the plane  went missing some 25 sea miles from the overlapping area between Vietnam and Malaysia waters.
In its earlier report, Tuoi Tre quoted Rear Admiral Ngo Van Phat, political commissar of the Fifth Naval Region as saying that the airplane could have crashed some 153 nautical miles (300 kilometers) from Vietnam’s Tho Chu Island. The island is located 55 nautical miles (102 km) southwest of the famous resort island of Phu Quoc.
However, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein later has denied any crash scene had been identified, Reuters reported.
“We are doing everything in our power to locate the plane. We are doing everything we can to ensure every possible angle has been addressed,” he was quoted by the news wire as saying.
According to Tuoi Tre, the National Committee for Search and Rescue has asked Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center to inform boats which are operating near the site to help locate the missing aircraft.
In the meantime, an airplane and a helicopter of Vietnam People’s Air Force will be mobilized for a rescue mission and ready for taking off when needed.
According to Malaysia Airlines’ statement, air traffic controllers lost contact with the Boeing B777-200 aircraft (flight MH 370) more than two hours after it departed.
The plane departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:21 a.m. Saturday (1621 GMT Friday) and was scheduled for landing in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. (2230 GMT) the same day.
Chinese news agency Xinhua reported the plane’s radar contact was lost when it was in the Vietnamese airspace.
However, Lai Xuan Thanh, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, told Thanh Nien that the plane was supposed to be present in Ho Chi Minh City’s flight information region (FIR) at 12:21 a.m. Saturday (1721 GMT Friday).
But, at the time Vietnam could not contact with the aircraft, he said.
The airplane was carrying 227 passengers with 14 nationalities and 12 crew members, including 152 Chinese nationals.
If the plane is found to have crashed, the loss would mark the second fatal accident involving a Boeing 777 in less than a year, after an unblemished safety record since the jet entered service in 1995, Reuters said.
Last summer, an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crash-landed in San Francisco, killing three passengers, it said.
Boeing said it was aware of reports that the Malaysia Airlines plane was missing and was monitoring the situation but had no further comment.

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