|Reporters interview Colonel Le Kiem Toan, Commander of Viet Nam's 918 Air Brigade at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. He said Viet Nam has added two more aeroplanes to the mission looking for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday.—VNA/VNS Photo Trong Duc
HCM CITY (VNS)— Vietnamese aircraft and ships have been able to spot and pick up "strange objects" near Tho Chu Island, but no conclusion has been reached about their links to the Malaysia Airlines MH370 passenger jet that has been missing since Saturday, a high-ranking Vietnamese official said yesterday.
These objects were initially reported by Singporean planes.
Deputy Minister of Tranport Pham Quy Tieu provided the update to Vietnam News Agency after returning from a trip to Phu Quoc Island, where the Government has established a command centre to monitor the search for the missing plane.
The National Committee for Search and Rescue reported that as of 6.00pm yesterday, Viet Nam had deployed an additional six aircraft and seven vessels to join the international mission. Malaysia, Singapore and China have sent four planes and 11 ships.
Hong Kong Air Traffic Control Centre yesterday said that an airliner reported seeing a large field of debris about 80 nautical miles southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
The area was in the East Sea, about 50 nautical miles off the coast of Viet Nam. Ships have been dispatched to the area.
Vietnamese forces are expanding their search for the missing Malaysian passenger plane to the east of the area presently under examination.
|Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan (first right) discusses with Singapore and Malaysia's officials in Phu Quoc on March 9. — Photo nld.com.vn
According to Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, earlier in the day a DHC 6 seaplane had detected an orange-coloured square object suspected of being a lifebuoy 96 nautical miles southwest of Tho Chu Island in southern Kien Giang Province. But the item has turned out to be the lid of a cable container covered in moss.
He said Vietnamese forces were working in close co-ordination with Singapore and Malaysia.
Tuan said Viet Nam had also licensed two Chinese vessels and one United States vessel to join in the operation.
On board the search aircraft were many Vietnamese reporters and their colleagues from foreign news agencies such as NHK, BBC, Reuters, AP, and the China Central Television (CCTV).
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft operated by Malaysia Airlines left Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing at 12.41am on Saturday and lost contact at around 1.30am the same day.
The aircraft was carrying 12 crew members and 227 passengers.
A command office has been set up at Phu Quoc International Airport in the southern province of Kien Giang to co-ordinate the search for the missing Malaysian jetliner.
Hordes of domestic and foreign reporters have flocked to the island to cover the event, including correspondents from China Central Television (CCTV) and Reuter.
The command office was set up following a working session between Deputy Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu and airport authorities in Phu Quoc Island yesterday.
Tieu has instructed agencies to continue making preparations for a search and rescue operation. He also stressed the need to enhance security and control at the airport.
Naval Zone 5 dispatched a vessel from An Thoi seaport to bring fuel to 40 or so ships joining in the search.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened at the country's largest airport, Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City. Additional checking measures have been applied at both entry and departure gates, especially those for overseas flights. — VNS