|A military officer scans the sea aboard a Vietnamese Air Force aircraft taking part during a search for a missing Malaysia Airline aircraft somewhere between Malaysia's east coast and southern Viet Nam. — AFP/VNA Photo
HA NOI (VNS)— Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh has expressed the nation's concerns, sympathies and offered all needed assistance regarding the Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft believed to have gone down in waters near Viet Nam's sea border.
He told Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Hj Aman on Saturday that Viet Nam is sparing no effort to assist the ongoing search for the Malaysian Airlines aircraft.
Minh said the Vietnamese government and people share the deep concern of the governments and people of Malaysia and other related countries, as well as the families of passengers on the missing flight.
He said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is directly involved in the efforts and paying special attention to the case. The PM has instructed relevant agencies to work closely with Malaysia in updating information about the plane while deploying all forces and means at hand for the search and rescue work, Minh said.
Minister Aman expressed sincere thanks of the Malaysian government and people for Viet Nam's concern and timely assistance.
Yesterday, Minh reiterated the nation's concerns about the fate of the aircraft and its passengers in a call made to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
He said Viet Nam stands ready to add more vehicles to the aircraft and ships that it has already sent to the area where the accident is believed to have occurred.
According to Malaysian Airlines, there were people from 14 countries and territories on board the plane flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The majority of them, 152 passengers, are from China. There are 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, three French citizens, two adults and an infant from the United States, two each from New Zealand, Ukraine and Canada, and one each from Russia, Italy, Taiwan, Netherlands and Austria.
Minh noted that the Viet Nam National Committee for Search and Rescue has assigned staff to work around the clock to get updated information and set up a team on Phu Quoc Island to focus on the search.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also set up a special group to work 24/7 in co-operate with relevant agencies and ensure timely responses, he said.
He also affirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant agencies would work to provide the best conditions for China and other countries to facilitate the search in the area where the plane is believed to have vanished as well as in dealing with follow-up tasks.
In response, Wang Yi expressed gratitude from the government and people of China to their Vietnamese brethren for their concern and timely response.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai chaired an urgent meeting yesterday on the search for the missing plane.
He urged all relevant units to conduct a thorough search of the area where oil slicks believed to have been caused by the missing aircraft have been spotted.
They should extend the search in the area surrounding the slink to ensure no suspicious spot is missed, Hai said.
Viet Nam has deployed 17 aircraft and 35 ships from its Air Force, Navy, Maritime Police and the Border Guard to assist in the search for a Malaysian Airlines plane that went missing last Saturday, a senior official said yesterday.
Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Viet Nam People's Army provided the information during a working session with Colonel Mislanbin Anuar, Defence Charge d'Affaires of Malaysia and Colonel Liow Sin Hwa, Defence Charge d'Affaires of Singapore, in Ha Noi.
Deputy Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu and foreign correspondents in Viet Nam were present at the meeting.
Tuan said the aircraft and ships have been rushed to where the oil slicks have been spotted during the search for the missing aircraft that had 239 people on board.
A Malaysian Airlines plane flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with air-traffic controllers suddenly on March 8.
According to Viet Nam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), the passenger jet, a Boeing 777-200, took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 16:42 UTC on March 7 (23:42 Viet Nam time).
At 17:21 UTC (00:21, March 8, Viet Nam time), the plane lost contact with the Subang Air Traffic Control at 06 o 56'N – 103 o 35'E over Malaysian waters, 120 nautical miles southwest of Viet Nam's Ca Mau cape and 25 nautical miles south of the Viet Nam-Malaysia overlapping sea borderline.
Tuan said at the meeting that besides its AN-26 aircraft, Viet Nam's search and rescue mission was reinforced by patrol planes CASA 212, seaplane DHC6, a marine search vessel equipped with 3-D ray scanning device and a team of divers from the Navy.
He said his office is also carrying out procedures for two Chinese naval ships to carry out search operations in the southern waters off Phu Quoc Island as requested by China.
Foreign correspondents, especially those from China, Malaysia and Singapore, have been allowed to board Vietnamese vehicles bound to the area where the oil leaks were spotted, he added.
Deputy Minister Tieu reported that a front commanding office serving the search operation has been set up on Phu Quoc Island.
Yesterday, the Vietnamese mission was joined by six planes and as many ships from Malaysia, one plane and three ships from the Philippines, two planes and three ships from Singapore, two aircraft and 14 vessels from China and one plane and two ships of the US Navy. — VNS