Crew members operate on a Chinese Air Force aircraft above sea areas where the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lost contact, Malaysia, March 12, 2014. Multinational search operation to locate missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been expanded to two areas with more countries joining in the mission. (Xinhua/Shen Ling)
BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China has sent more vessels and expanded the searching area for the missing flight that carried 154 Chinese passengers, hoping to find some traces.
As of late afternoon on Wednesday, eight Chinese vessels, including three warships, were conducting operations in the waters, without finding debris or objects from the plane. More ships are expected to reach the waters.
The vessels were carrying five helicopters, 12 professional divers and other equipment, said He Jianzhong, head of China Maritime Search and Rescue Center.
The search will not only cover an area 90 nautical miles long and 25 nautical miles wide, but also move northwestward, to an area 60 nautical miles long and wide, according to the center.
The plane has been missing for five days since contact with it was lost early on Saturday. It was flying over the Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area in Vietnam and carrying 227 passengers, including 154 Chinese.
China also sent a third military aircraft on Wednesday to help search for the missing Malaysian plane.
The aircraft, sent by the Chinese air force, will join the two aircraft sent on Tuesday to probe for black-box signals above waters suspected to be the site of the missing jet, according to a military spokesman.
China has already employed 10 satellites to provide technological support in attempts to locate the missing Boeing 777-200, which was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. local time on Saturday.
Meanwhile, China urged Malaysia to coordinate international search and rescue efforts and speed up the search for missing flight.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a routine press briefing on Wednesday that Malaysia should take primary responsibility in handling the aftermath and investigation as the missing flight was operated by Malaysia Airlines.
He appealed to the Malaysian side to take the lead in coordinating international search and rescue efforts.
"We hope to enhance communication with Malaysia and strengthen coordination with search and rescue ships of other countries," Qin said.
"China and the rest of the international community are very worried about the missing flight, as its whereabouts still remain unknown," said the spokesman, who urged Malaysia not to miss any clues and to speed up search efforts.
On Tuesday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng met with Ong Ka Ting, Malaysian Prime Minister's Special Envoy to China, in Beijing and expressed deep concern of Chinese government and people over the missing flight.
"We hope Malaysia can carefully listen to the families of the Chinese passengers, answer their doubts and appeals and keep them updated on the progress of the search and rescue," Xie said.
Ong expressed condolences to China on behalf of Prime Minister Najib Razak and extended deep sympathies to the families of the Chinese passengers, and pledged that Malaysia will spare no effort to conduct search and rescue and comfort the families of the Chinese passengers.
A total of 115 family members of the passengers on board the missing flight have arrived in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia.
The company said in a latest statement that "they are taken care of by 72 different caregivers, and at least one caregiver is assigned to each family together with a Mandarin translator for the families from China."
"Equal amount of initial financial assistance are being given out to all families of passengers and crew", said the statement.
And the company has offered a Chinese interpreter for each Chinese families of the passengers.
Forty-two ships and 39 planes from 12 countries, including China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and the United States, are scouring the waters around Flight MH370's last known location, but no solid clues have been found so far.
A Malaysian official said Wednesday that the multinational search operation to locate missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been expanded to two areas, the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea, with more countries joining in the mission.
India, Japan and Brunei were the latest to join in a massive search mission which already entered the fifth day.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has moved its search and rescue teams to the Andaman Sea to the south of Thailand, where Thai Navy has searched for three days.
Earlier on Wednesday, Malaysia's air force chief Gen. Rodzali Daud denied report that military radar had tracked MH370 flying over the Strait of Malacca.
But he said the air force did not rule out the possibility that the aircraft turned back before it vanished from radar screens.
Vietnam officials said on the same day that the missing Malaysian jetliner seemed unlikely to have fallen in water off Vietnam as the country has conducted intensive search and no clues have been found so far.
Jean-Paul Troadec, a former director of the French air accident investigation said on Tuesday that search for the missing Malaysian plane faces a number of difficulties, and the biggest is to locate the area where the plane disappeared.
He said it took six days to find the first piece of debris of Air France Flight 447, which slammed into the Atlantic Ocean and killed all 228 people onboard on June 1, 2009.
Asked if there is any hope of finding the missing plane, he said "it is not impossible, but it can be very long."