Vietnam to set up base to look for missing Malaysian plane

By Mai Ha - Phan Hau, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnamese military officials discuss the search for the missing Malaysian airplane on March 9
A base will be established on the resort island of Phu Quoc to oversee the search for the Malaysian jet that vanished with 239 people on board before entering Vietnamese airspace on Saturday.
At a meeting Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai ordered the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam to provide everything needed for the base so that it can offer all support to local and foreign rescue forces involved in the search.
Vietnam has been entrusted with searching the waters north of the Ho Chi Minh City flight information region (FIR), Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of the Army General Staff, said.
Malaysia is scouring the southern waters, and Singapore  the area between Vietnam and Malaysia, he said.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing B777-200 aircraft disappeared when it was flying over the sea between Vietnam and Malaysia around two hours after it left the latter.
It took off at 12:21 a.m. Malaysian time (1621 GMT Friday) and was scheduled to land in Biejing at 2230 GMT the same day.
It was supposed to enter the HCMC FIR at 12:21 a.m. Vietnam time (1721 GMT Friday), but failed to, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) said.
A representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Vietnam would facilitate the participation of foreign countries in the search as long as their activities are restricted to the incident site.
That same day it permitted two Chinese ships and an American ship to enter Vietnamese waters to join in the search, online newspaper Dan Tri reported.
CAAV Chief Lai Xuan Thanh said Vietnam also needs to make plans to receive families of the passengers on the plane (around 800 people), officials, and foreign media persons who would come to Vietnam for information.
Under International Civil Aviation Organization rules, the government of a territory where a crash takes place has jurisdiction over the wreckage and will lead an investigation into the accident.
According to local officials, since there is a strong suspicion that the airplane might have crashed in  Vietnamese waters, the country has made plans for the situation.
The Vietnamese Navy Sunday reported sighting an object suspected to be from the airplane around 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Tho Chu Island, located off the country's southwest coast in the Gulf of Thailand.
Authorities dispatched more aircraft Monday morning to investigate.
Vietnam has also reported sightings of oil slicks in its waters.
Tuan said the waters where the  slicks were detected are 25 meters deep, and the Ministry of Defense has sent a marine research ship to the site to investigate.
According to Malaysia Airlines, the aircraft was carrying 227 passengers of 14 nationalities and 12 crew members when it lost contact with air traffic control.

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