HCM CITY — The Ministry of National Defence on the afternoon of March 8 dispatched an aircraft from Ho Chi Minh City 's Tan Son Nhat International Airport to search for a Malaysian plane that went missing in the area in the early hours of the morning.
The ministry is also ready to send helicopters, ships from the navy and the maritime police to aid the search and rescue effort if the AN 26 search aircraft detects the location of the missing plane, said Major General Pham Hoai Giang, Director of the ministry's Rescue Department.
Giang, who is also chief office of the National Committee for Search and Rescue, said his department prepared to aid the search immediately after receiving information that the Malaysia Airlines jet, carrying 239 people aboard from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, lost all contact at about 120 nautical miles southwest of Ca Mau cape in southernmost Vietnam.
The department has urged the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to transmit update announcement to all vessels operating near the area so that they can join the rescue when needed.
The centre has been asked to coordinate with the Consular Department of the Foreign Ministry as well as the Defence Ministry's units in instructing on-duty vessels to follow Malaysia 's search and rescue activities and stand ready for the mission.
Colonel Luu Hoang Ha, Deputy Commander of the Border Guard of Ca Mau province, said the force has informed vessels operating at sea of the situation in order to keep track of the traces of the missing plane.
At present, all Ca Mau localities have prepared necessary conditions for the rescue, said Nguyen Thanh Luan, chief of the provincial People's Committee Office, adding that by 14:20 on March 8 ( Vietnam time), the location of the missing jet was yet to be identified.
Rear Admiral Ngo Van Phat, Political Commissar of the Naval Zone 5 in Phu Quoc island district, southern Kien Giang province, said his unit has also prepared necessary vessels and equipment for the rescue.
According to the MRCC, the Malaysian Boeing 777-200 left Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 16:42 UTC on March 7 (23:42 Vietnam time).
At 17:21 UTC (00:21 Vietnam 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 Vietnam's Ca Mau cape and 25 nautical miles south of the Vietnam-Malaysia overlapping sea borderline.
On board were 227 passengers and 12 crew members from 13 countries, including 158 Chinese people. — VNS