US sends ships to help in search and rescue

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement personnel using radar to scan for the missing MH370 as they fly over the waters off the northeastern coast of peninsula Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR - The United States has dispatched two ships, the USS Pinckney and the USNS John Ericsson, to assist in the search and rescue efforts of missing Malaysia Airlines MH370.

The USS Pinckney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, arrived at the scene yesterday afternoon.

 

The ship carries two MH-60R helicopters which can be equipped for search and rescue while the USNS John Ericssonsailed in from Singapore in the morning.

In a statement, the US government said it was helping with the search and rescue at the request of the Malaysian government.

Besides these ships, it said a US Navy P-3C Orion aircraft had departed from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, in the morning and begun a search of the area.

The US Embassy-based representatives from its law enforcement agencies were also in contact with their Malaysian counterparts, it said.

Meanwhile, AP reported that an adviser of US President Barack Obama as saying that it is too early to tell whether foul play was a factor in the disappearance of MH370.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said on Sunday that the US was looking into reports that two passengers boarded the plane using passports that were later found to be stolen, though investigators have yet to reach any conclusion. Blinken added that it was too early to speculate whether the passengers had any role in the plane's disappearance.

He also said that US investigators from the FBI, the National Transpor­tation Safety Board, and the Federal Aviation Administration are heading to Asia to assist with investigations.

Armed Forces chief Jeneral Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin said Malaysia and Singapore had deployed their own submarine support and rescue vessels. The surface ships, which are fitted with submersibles, are usually used to locate or salvage sunken ships.

It is learnt that the Royal Malaysian Navy's two Scorpene submarines are not designed as rescue vessels.

Meanwhile, Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman did not rule out all possibilities, including the aircraft being hijacked.

He added the area of search operation had been expanded to 50 nautical miles from the initial 20 nautical miles.

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