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Chinese warship arrives in search area for missing Malaysian airliner, more on way

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-03-10 22:37

ABOARD JINGGANGSHAN WARSHIP - Chinese warship Mianyang arrived early Monday in the search area for the missing Malaysian airliner and started its mission, with three more, including the Jinggangshan, on the way.

As of 11:00 a.m., Mianyang and Chinese marine police vessel "Marine Police 3411" had completed a sweep of 1,600 square nautical miles (5,500 square km), Mianyang's captain, Zhang Yu, said.

The two ships currently were sailing to the next search area, Zhang told Xinhua over phone.

Mianyang left for the possible crash site Saturday night, while Jinggangshan set out from Zhanjiang City in south China's Guangdong Province at about 3:00 a.m. Sunday, carrying life-saving equipment, underwater detection facilities, supplies of water and food, two helicopters, 30 medical personnel, 10 divers and a 52-member marine contingent.

"The equipment is well prepared, rubber dinghies and assault boats could sail out immediately when required," said Bu Kezhen, head of the search and rescue team of the marine contingent.

However, what worried him most was the uncertain ocean current, which was likely to restrict the time divers could stay under the surface.

Jinggangshan, which is scheduled to arrive in mission waters Monday, will join Mianyang in the search, including using helicopters.

"As soon as any victims, suspected floats or oil trace are spotted, we will immediately start to carry out rescue, salvage or sampling," Jingangshan's captain Liu Honghu said.

The planned search area is located at the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand, 400 nautical miles (741 km) long, 215 nautical miles (398 km) wide, and with an averaged depth of 60 meters.

Meanwhile, the destroyer Haikou and amphibious landing ship Kunlunshan are also heading for the area.

In addition, China's navy has ordered two more specialized ocean rescue ships to stand ready to sail if needed.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lost contact with ground control at 1:20 a.m. Beijing time on Saturday when flying over the Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area in Vietnam.

The flight was carrying 12 crew members and 227 passengers, including 154 Chinese nationals.

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