Defense chief orders search for missing Malaysian plane

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Saturday, March 8, 2014


MANILA (Updated 9:13 a.m.) - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has ordered the deployment of military assets to search for a Malaysian plane that was reported missing.

Department of National Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command has already deployed aircraft and vessels to join the search for the Malaysian Aircraft flight MH370.

Malaysian authorities said the Boeing 777 plane carrying 227 passengers disappeared from the air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam at 2:40 a.m. Saturday.

There were 153 passengers from China, 38 from Malaysia, seven each from Indonesia and Australia, five from India, four from the U.S. and others from Indonesia, France, New Zealand, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Austria.

Malaysian plane missing
A woman cries at the arrival hall of the International Airport in Beijing, China, Saturday, March 8, 2014. Relatives and friends were arriving at Beijing airport for news after a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 was reported missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing Saturday. (AP Photo)


"This morning, in the spirit of unity and humanitarianism, the Secretary of national defense has ordered the AFP to join in the search and rescue operations for the missing Malaysian Airlines under the possibility/assumption that said flight MH370 may have veered off its path and entered Philippine territory," said Galvez.

Galvez said the AFP Western Command has deployed aircraft to conduct the search in the southwestern area of Palawan and its surrounding waters in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

"Likewise, naval vessels have been tasked to join the search," Galvez added.

Two large oil slicks spotted Saturday by the Vietnamese air force offered the first sign that a jetliner carrying 239 people had crashed into the ocean after vanishing from radar without sending a single distress call.

The oil slicks sighted off the southern tip of Vietnam were each between 10 kilometers (6 miles) and 15 kilometers (9 miles) long, the Vietnamese government said in a statement.

There was no immediate confirmation that the slicks were related to Flight MH370, but the government said they were consistent with the kind of slick that would be produced by the jet's two fuel tanks.

If wreckage is found, a top priority will be recovering the airliner's "black boxes," the flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders that are equipped with "pingers" that emit ultrasonic signals that can be detected underwater. Under good conditions, the signals can be detected from several hundred miles away, said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. (VR/with reports from AP/Sunnex)

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