Japan is to deploy Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) transport aircraft to Malaysia to assist the massive search for the still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the defense ministry said.
An advanced group, consisting of members of Japan’s emergency rescue team and ASDF staff, will leave for Kuala Lumpur to coordinate with Malaysian authorities on search efforts for the missing MAS passenger jet.
“We will take into account what is expected (by Malaysia) and do whatever we can in response to the request,” top government spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference Tuesday.
Several nations have joined the vast search for Flight MH370, which has been missing since Saturday with 239 passengers, mostly Chinese citizens, and crew members on board. Dozens of ships and aircraft are scouring the waters off Kota Bharu where the plane was last detected.
Authorities said they are widening the search area after failing to find any traces of the plane around its last known location.
Contradicting reports on the time of last contact with Flight MH370 and its flight path—some reports show that the plane may have turned around—have thrown aviation experts and investigators further in the dark as to what may have occurred before the plane completely vanished.
The search area has been refocussed on the Malacca Straits where the plane was believed to have veered away from its flight path to Beijing.
Authorities said they have not ruled out terrorism even after identifying one of the two people on board with stolen passports was a 19-year-old Iranian migrant trying to get to Germany and had no links with terror groups.
Meanwhile, Vietnam said it was scaling back the search for the missing jet in Vietnam waters. Vietnam earlier reported sightings of a “yellow object” and sent choppers to confirm whether it was a lifeboat possibly from the aircraft.
Malaysian Airlines officials say they have “no reason to believe” that any actions by the crew caused the disappearance of the plane.
By Maesie Bertumen