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No sign of vanished Malaysia Airlines plane, frantic, but baffled rescuers spread far and wide

Mar 12 2014, 12:24 IST
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US planemaker Boeing has declined to comment beyond a brief statement saying it was monitoring the situation in the wake of the disappeared Malaysia Airlines plane. In picture: Woman waits with baby for news of missing husband. (Reuters) US planemaker Boeing has declined to comment beyond a brief statement saying it was monitoring the situation in the wake of the disappeared Malaysia Airlines plane. In picture: Woman waits with baby for news of missing husband. (Reuters)
SummaryFrantic though they may be, rescuers unable to even field a theory about where the Malaysia Airlines plane may be.

The search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane expanded on Wednesday to cover an area stretching from China to the Andaman Sea, with authorities no closer to explaining what happened to the plane or the 239 people on board.

Vietnam briefly scaled down search operations in waters off its southern coast, saying it was receiving scanty and confusing information from Malaysia over where the aircraft may have headed after it lost contact with air traffic control.

Hanoi later said the search - now in its fifth day - was back on in full force and was even extending on to land. China also said its air force would sweep land areas, although it did not specify where.

"We are expanding to the east of the expected route of the Malaysia Airlines flight and on land," Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, Vietnam's deputy army chief of staff and spokesman for its search and rescue committee, told reporters.

The confusion over where to look is adding to one of the most baffling mysteries in modern aviation mystery, and prolonging the agonising wait for hundreds of relatives of the missing.

Flight MH370 dropped out of sight an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing early on Saturday, under clear night skies and with no suspicion of any mechanical problems.

Dozens of planes and ships have already searched tens of thousands of square miles of Malaysia and off both its coasts without finding a trace of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.

Adding to the frustration and uncertainty, Malaysia's military has said the plane could have turned around from its planned flight path, but there were conflicting statements and reports about how far and in which direction it could have flown after communication with the aircraft was lost.

OFF COURSE?

Malaysia's air force chief, Rodzali Daud, denied saying military radar had tracked Malaysia Airlines MH370 flying over the Strait of Malacca off the country's west coast, about 500 km (310 miles) from where it was last seen by air traffic control, about midway between the east coast town of Kota Bharu and Vietnam.

Malaysia's Berita Harian newspaper on Tuesday quoted Rodzali as saying the plane was last detected at the northern end of the Strait of Malacca at 2.40 a.m. on Saturday, more than an hour after it lost contact.

"It would not be appropriate for the Royal Malaysian Air Force to issue any official conclusions as to the aircraft's flight path until a

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