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Malaysia dismisses connection between oil slick, missing jet amid intensified search

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

KUALA LUMPUR - Mystery continued to surround the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner after Malaysian authorities on Monday ruled out the connection between oil slick off the country's eastern coast and the vanished flight.

Based on a lab analysis, samples taken from an oil slick found off Malaysia's eastern coast state of Kelantan are not from the missing jet, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) eastern region enforcement chief Nasir Adam said late Monday.

He added that the oil was a type used by ship, not from an aircraft.

Flight MH370, operated by a Malaysia Airlines' Boeing 777-200 carrying 12 crew members and 227 passengers lost contact with air traffic control early Saturday en rout from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

MMEA's search team found an oil slick near Tok Bali, Kelantan state a day later, but could not confirm whether it came from the missing plane.

The slick, from which the samples were taken, was reportedly detected just south of the spot where the plane lost contact with the ground.

Some objects believed to belong to the ill-fated flight spotted earlier were also dismissed by Malaysian authorities as relevant items.

"Our focus right now is to try to locate the aircraft," Hishammuddin Hussein, acting transport minister told a news conference.

Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said investigators were looking at "every angle" to explain the plane's disappearance, including hijacking.

Dozens of military and civilian vessels have been criss- crossing waters beneath the aircraft's flight path and their search area has widened to cover the Andaman Sea, the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea.

Four P-3C Orions, with capability for long-range searches, offered by the United States, Australia and New Zealand, are scouring the area for trace of the lost jet,the minister said.

Also on Monday, the chief Malaysian investigator disclosed that the two men who used stolen passports to board the jetliner that went missing Saturday were not of Asian appearance.

Interpol confirmed Sunday that at least two stolen passports were used by unidentified passengers on the plane and the agency is investigating more suspicious passports involved.

Malaysia's state news agency, Bernama, has quoted Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying that the passengers using the stolen European passports were of Asian looking.

In a related development, Hishamuddin Hussein, acting minister of transportation, met with a delegation from China's Ministry of Public Security that arrived at Kuala Lumpur to offer help.

According to Malaysia Airlines, there were 154 Chinese on board Flight MH370, along with 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has asked the Malaysian side to carry on search in a telephone conversation with his Malaysian counterpart Anifah Aman.

Every minute counts since there is a glimmer of hope, Wang said.

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