Malaysia Airlines is “fearing the worst” as its plane carrying 239 people is still missing, more than 24 hours after it disappeared. A rescue team is continuing its search after two oil slicks suspected to have come from the aircraft were found at sea.
The plane search area for the rescue mission has been expanded as the missing aircraft might have turned back, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Seri Hishammuddin said during press conference.
The minister said that no debris was found and added that four suspect passengers are being investigated in a terror link probe.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from radars early Saturday morning in Vietnamese airspace. A senior Vietnamese naval official stated that the plane crashed into the South China Sea, according to the country’s state media.
Later on Saturday, Vietnamese Air Force planes spotted two oil slicks which are suspected to have come from the missing plane, AP reported. The air force said the slicks were discovered off the southern tip of Vietnam and resemble the kind of trail left by fuel from a jetliner.
As of now, there is still no information on the whereabouts of the plane. “The search and the rescue team has yet to determine the whereabouts of the MH370,” the airline’s spokesman said at a press conference in Beijing. The rescue team “failed to find evidence of any wreckage.”
“In fearing for the worst, a disaster recovery management specialist from Atlanta, USA will be assisting Malaysia Airlines in this crucial time,” Malaysia Airlines said in its latest statement. The airline will also establish a command center in Kota Bharu, Malaysia or Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam after the whereabouts of the plane are determined, according to the statement.
The multi-national rescue team is continuing its search, deploying boats and helicopters to verify reports from the Vietnamese Navy. “An international search and rescue mission from Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam was mobilized this morning. At this stage, they have failed to find evidence of any wreckage. The sea mission will continue overnight while the air mission will recommence at daylight,” Malaysia Airlines said in its latest statement.
The airline sent a team of 94 caregivers “consisting of well-trained staff and also Tzu Chi Foundation members to provide emotional support to the families.” Another set of caregivers will be deployed to Beijing later on Sunday.
Vietnamese state media earlier stated that the plane came down close to Tho Chu Island. However, those reports have not been confirmed by Malaysia Airlines.
Malaysia Airlines said flight MH370 lost touch with Subang Air Traffic Control around 02:40 local time on Saturday morning.
The aircraft left Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00:41 and was expected to land in Beijing at 06:30 local time (22:30 GMT).