Vietnam sends helicopters to check ‘yellow object’, possible plane’s life raft, says minister

Vietnam has scrambled rescue helicopters to check a "yellow object" floating in its waters that rescue teams suspect could be a life raft from a Malaysian plane that went missing with 239 people aboard, Reuters reported a minister as saying today.

A Vietnamese jet had seen the object earlier today but was unable to get close enough to determine what it was, Pham Quy Tieu, Vice Transport Minister and deputy head of the country's rescue committee, told Reuters.

According to Reuters, The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said on its website searches were being conducted about 140km southwest of Tho Chu island, which is located about 200km off the coast of southern Vietnam.

Earlier, director-general of DCA Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman had dismissed reports that parts of the aircraft had been located by the Vietnamese authorities.

He had said those responsible for the search and rescue had verified reports of the "finds" with the Vietnamese authorities who denied them.

It was reported that there had been unverified reports of sightings of aircraft parts, including a possible door, and oil slicks in the South China Sea.

"Various sightings have been reported by numerous media organisations but nothing concrete has been found," he said, adding that claims that Vietnamese search and rescue forces had found an aircraft door had not been verified.

"We have contacted Vietnamese authorities and they have denied any such finding by their SAR forces," Azharuddin had told a press conference today.

He had said the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (APMM) had also spotted oil slicks in the South China Sea and taken samples.

"The samples have been taken to the laboratory and hopefully, the test results will be released soon."

Azharuddin had said aviation and aircraft experts from around the world had contributed their opinions and expertise.

"However, nothing concrete can be concluded until we actually locate MH370," he added.

The missing Boeing 777-200 aircraft left KLIA for Beijing at 12.41am on Saturday, but contact with the plane was lost at 1.20am when it was flying over airspace manned by air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh City.

The aircraft was carrying 239 people, according to MAS's flight manifest, the bulk of whom are Chinese passengers, and 12 crew members. – March 10, 2014.