Vietnam searchers report spotting plane debris

A Vietnamese search aircraft located fragments Sunday floating in waters off southern Vietnam that are suspected of coming from a Malaysia Airlines jetliner that went missing a day earlier with 239 people on board.

The fragments were believed to be a composite inner door and a piece of the tail, Vietnam’s ministry of information and communication said in a posting on its website. They were located about 50 miles south-southwest of Tho Chu island.

Officials released photograph of one fragment floating in the water. Malaysia Airlines said it had received no confirmation regarding the suspected debris.

A picture taken by a Vietnamese search aircraft shows what is believed to be a piece of debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines airplane

Flight MH370 went missing early Saturday on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing and ships and planes scouring the waters had been unable to find it. Vietnam said earlier in the day that a Singaporean aircraft had found a yellow floating object south-southwest of Thu Chu and dispatched ships toward the area. Singapore has declined to comment.

The Vietnamese statement said that the aircraft could not land near the objects to investigate them further because of darkening conditions but would continue the identification process Monday morning.

The disappearance of the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing triggered a search and rescue operation across portions of the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea, involving the armed forces of several nations, including the United States, Malaysia, Vietnam and China.

The investigation into the fate of the plane has been complicated further by revelations that two passengers appeared to have boarded the plane with stolen passports, prompting airline executives and aviation officials to say that foul play can’t be ruled out.

Malaysia’s police chief, Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar, told reporters in Terengganu on the country’s South China Sea coast that while police investigators “don’t dismiss the possibility” of terrorism, they weren’t considering it the most likely cause for the disappearance of MH370.

Rescuers are looking at the possibility that the plane could have attempted to turn back to Kuala Lumpur, “which could mean that the aircraft could be elsewhere,” acting Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, who also serves as Malaysia’s defense minister, said at a press briefing.
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Late Saturday, Vietnam reported that one of its search aircraft had spotted two oil slicks some 140 kilometers, or 87 miles, from Vietnam’s coast. The slicks could be a sign that the missing plane had crashed, authorities in Hanoi said.

“I can confirm that there was an oil slick, no debris,” Mr. Hishamuddin said, adding that Vietnamese authorities are on site to verify whether there is any jet fuel on the sea surface.

On Sunday afternoon, a statement issued in the name of a previously unknown group claimed that the disappearance of the plane was a political act aimed at the Chinese and Malaysian governments and referred to last week’s attack in a Chinese train station by alleged Uighur separatists. It stopped short of a claim of responsibility. Malaysian officials said that they were unaware of any claim of responsibility but would investigate all possibilities…

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