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Vietnam says planes seeking Malaysia jet spot oil slicks

Posted at | Updated as of 03/09/14 6:38 AM

HANOI - Vietnam said Saturday rescue planes searching for a missing Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 239 passengers spotted two large oil slicks in the sea and it is sending boats to the area.

"Two of our aircraft sighted two oil slicks around 15 to 20 kilometers (10-12 miles) long, running parallel, around 500 meters apart from each other," the army's deputy chief-of-staff, Vo Van Tuan, told state-run VTV.

The sighting of the oil slicks is the first possible sign that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a twin-engine Boeing 777 jetliner, could have gone down in the waters between southern Vietnam and northern Malaysia.

"We are not certain where these two oil slicks may have come from so we have sent Vietnamese ships to the area," said Tuan, speaking live on Vietnamese television.

Mystery has shrouded the fate of the jet since it dropped off the radar shortly after it left Kuala Lumpur on an overnight flight to Beijing carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew.

An international rescue effort is underway involving Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and China -- which had 153 nationals on board.