Vietnam downgrades jet search from ’emergency to regular’

Agence France-Presse
The hunt shifts to the Indian Ocean and away from the South China Sea where it last made contact

NO DEBRIS. A Vietnamese military official uses a binocular to look out the window inside a flying Soviet-made AN-26 of the Vietnam Air Force during search and rescue (SAR) operations for a missing Malaysian Airlines flight, off Vietnam's sea on March 13, 2014. Photo by Luong Thai Linh/EPA

HANOI, Vietnam (UPDATED) – Vietnam has downgraded its search for a missing Malaysian airliner from “emergency to regular,” an official said Friday, March 14, as the hunt shifted to the Indian Ocean and away from the South China Sea where the jet last made contact.

Vietnam deployed 3 search planes on Friday, down from 5 on Thursday, March 13, according to search and rescue committee spokesman Nguyen Ngoc Son. (READ: Malaysia confirms jet search area expanded)

He said Vietnam would consider helping search for missing flight MH370 in the Strait of Malacca on the other side of Malaysia, but said that no official request for such assistance had yet been received.

Vietnam has played a leading role in the search for the Boeing 777 that vanished early Saturday, March 8, over the South China Sea with 239 people aboard, just before it should have made contact with Vietnamese air traffic control.

The communist country deployed planes, boats, and even the commercial fishing fleet in its first major search and rescue effort, but despite repeated false alarms over oil slicks and potential debris sightings no trace of the missing aircraft has been found. –

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