Rescue mission say ′yellow object′ in missing plane investigation not a life raft | News | DW | 10.03.2014
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Rescue mission say 'yellow object' in missing plane investigation not a life raft

Authorities have said an object spotted earlier in the day was not a life raft from the missing Malaysian plane. The cause behind the disappearance of the flight early on Saturday remains unclear.

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Speculation mounts over fate of lost jet

A Vietnamese helicopter retrieved a "yellow object" on Monday, which authorities had hoped would point to the whereabouts of flight MH370, which vanished en route to Beijing on Saturday. The rescue mission quickly determined that the object was not a life raft, as people had hoped.

"[The Vietnamese rescue team] has salvaged the object, at the notice and request by Malaysia's rescue center, 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Tho Chu island. The object has been identified as a moss-covered cap of a cable reel," the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said on its website.

So far, authorities have been unable to locate any debris from the Boeing airliner, which vanished early Saturday en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. On Sunday, Vietnamese searchers spent hours trying to track down a rectangular object - thought to possibly be the plane's door - which had been sighted during an aerial search earlier that day.

Plea to media for caution

During a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishamuddin called on the media to be more careful in its reporting of the missing flight.

"I would like to make a plea especially to the media not to disseminate…[false] news," Hishadmuddin, saying that misleading and speculative reports had a negative effect not only on the search mission, but also on the families awaiting news about the fate of the 239 people on board flight MH370.

The plea from the transport minister came just as the Vietnamese rescue mission was being deployed to locate the "yellow object," which they later ascertained not to be from the plane.

Stolen passport users identified

Officials in Malaysia have found little evidence to help them understand how the Malaysian Airlines flight vanished on a clear day without sending a distress signal.

Since then, they have launched a probe into the identities of the 239 people on board. Interpol confirmed on Sunday that at least two passengers on the Boeing 777 had been travelling on stolen passports.

On Monday, Malaysian authorities said they had located the two passengers in question in video footage and determined that they were not of Asian origin. They have declined to disclose further information about their identities.

Both people were believed to have bought one-way tickets to Europe and boarded the plane using the stolen documents. Because the passports belonged to EU citizens, the passengers would not have had to obtain Chinese visas.

Authorities also widened their search on Sunday to include Malaysia's western coast after determining from radar information that it might have deviated from its scheduled course.

Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, China and the United States have all sent logistical support to aid Malaysia in its search.

kms/ng (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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