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China launches land search for missing Malaysian plane

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-18

China has begun searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on its own territory, state media said on Tuesday, as the international search continues.

Authorities launched search and rescue operations within Chinese territory, which covers the northern corridor through which the aircraft could have flown, official news agency Xinhua quoted Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang as saying.

The Malaysia Airlines jet went missing on 8th March carrying 239 passengers and crew, with two thirds of those on board being Chinese citizens.

Malaysian police say they are investigating the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board, but have yet to give any update on what they have uncovered.

The Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said to Xinhua that there was no evidence to suggest that the mainland Chinese passengers on the plane were involved in hijacking or launching a terror attack.

Eleven days after contact was lost with Flight 370, there has been little progress in determining what transpired when the Boeing 777 was intentionally diverted off its flight path and where it might have gone.

Australia narrows southern corridor search

Meanwile, Australia, which is leading the southernmost leg of the search, said aircraft had made two sweeps of the southern corridor so far, and would make another sweep later on Tuesday.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) added that its search field had been sharply reduced from 19 million sq km to a 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq mile) corridor in the southern Indian Ocean, based on analysis of satellite data collected from the plane by the United States National Transportation Safety Board.

But the area is still roughly the size of Spain and Portugal combined, and strong currents and high seas are making the task more daunting, the agency said.

AMSA had streamlined the data further to account for water movements in the days since Flight MH370 disappeared 10 days ago.

"It's the result of some analysis of the possible movement of the aircraft," John Young, general manager of the emergency response division of AMSA, told reporters. "There are some assumptions built in, including the speed of the aircraft."

Malaysian military radar spotted the plane in the northern reaches of the Strait of Malacca at 2.14 am on March 8, just over 1 ½ hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur. That is the plane's last known confirmed position.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AFP, AP)

Where is MH370?

Date created : 2014-03-18

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