A woman, believed to be a relative of a passenger on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, cries as she hears the news at the Beijing Capital International Airport on Saturday. The flight en route to Beijing with 239 on board had disappeared somewhere over Vietnam. Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters
MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has joined efforts to locate a Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 239 people reported missing on Saturday morning.
Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said the AFP was ordered to conduct the search for the Beijing-bound flight “in the spirit of humanity."
“The Secretary of National Defense has ordered the AFP to join in the search and rescue operations for the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft under the possibility or assumption that said flight MH370 may have veered off its path and entered Philippine territory," he said.
The AFP is now using 3 naval ships and 1 aircraft to explore some areas of the West Philippine Sea and Palawan where the plane might have crashed.
“The AFP Western Command, under the direction of the Chief of Staff of the AFP, has dispatched an aircraft to conduct search of the southwestern area of Palawan and its surrounding waters in the West Philippine Sea. Likewise, naval vessels have been tasked to join the search,” said Galvez.
The Boeing 777 Malaysian Airline flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur.
Vietnam mounts similar search
Vietnam also launched a search effort Saturday. However, regional authorities still could not locate the plane nearly 12 hours after it lost contact with air traffic control on an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The plane reportedly relayed no distress signal or other indications of trouble.
"The plane lost contact near Ca Mau province airspace as it was preparing to transfer to Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control," a statement posted on the official Vietnamese government website said.
The plane's signal was never transferred to Ho Chi Minh air traffic control, it added.
The ministry launched a rescue effort to find the plane, working in coordination with Malaysian and Chinese officials, the statement added.
Contact was lost at 2:40 am local time (1840 GMT Friday), about 2 hours after take-off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the carrier's CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are deeply saddened this morning with the news on MH370," he told a press conference in Malaysia. Our focus now is to work with emergency responders and authorities, and mobilise full support. And our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew, and their family members,” he said.
The airline and Malaysian authorities were working with Vietnamese officials in a bid to locate the plane, he added.