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Malaysia awaits information from Australia on missing jet

By Ians

Kuala Lumpur, March 21: Malaysia is awaiting information from Australia as to whether certain objects shown in satellite images floating southwest of the Australian coast were related to the missing Malaysian airliner, Malaysian officials said here Friday.

The search and rescue operations in the rest of the southern and northern corridors the aircraft could have possibly flown are still under way, Xinhua reported citing the officials.

Australian authorities intensified the search operation, said Malaysian minister

Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia's minister of defence and acting minister of transport, told a press conference Friday that the Australian authorities were intensifying the search for the debris of the Malaysia Airlines jet suspected to have been found approximately 2,500 km southwest of Perth.

China has deployed five ships and three ship-borne helicopters to the southern corridor.

"Three Chinese aircraft arrived in Malaysia at 11 this morning," he said, adding that they would also be searching area in the southern corridor.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur March 8.

The Boeing 777-200ER was initially presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea.

The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6.30 a.m. the same day. The 227 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

Contact with the plane was lost along with its radar signal at 1.40 a.m. when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City.

Hishammuddin said the Kazakhstan authorities had assured Malaysia that no trace of the missing plane had been found.

A briefing for the relatives of those on board the missing plane was held Thursday night and the latest developments were updated and questions were answered, Hishammuddin said.

It was reported that the captain of the missing jet made a phone call just minutes before take-off inside the cockpit. Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, said it was under investigation.

Ukraine police have confirmed that the background checks on an Ukrainian passenger on board the missing jet have come back clear, Hishamuddin added.

He said that though the black box's signal can last only for 30 days because of the battery, they will use other technologies to locate it.

The black box of the Air France flight 447 which crashed June 1, 2009, was not found until almost two years later, he added.


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