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UPDATED: March 9, 2014
China Makes All-Out Effort to Locate Missing Flight

Representatives of the Malaysia Airlines bow to the media before the press conference in Beijing on missing flight MH 370 on March 9 (WANG QUANCHAO)

China is making an all-out effort to search and rescue the Malaysia Airlines flight that has been missing since Saturday morning as the whole country continues to pray for the safety of the passengers onboard.

"As of now, the search and the rescue team has yet to determine the whereabouts of the MH370," said the airline's spokesman at a press conference in Beijing early Sunday, which lasted less than 30 minutes.

A team of 93 staff from the airline arrived in Beijing late Saturday night. The spokesman said they are mainly to take care of the relatives of those on board the missing flight.

Once the whereabouts of the aircraft is determined, the airline will fly members of the families to the location, according to the spokesman.

Around 120 relatives and friends of passengers on the missing jet have arrived in Beijing and have been accommodated at the Lido hotel near the capital airport.

Divers and salvagers sent by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) are on their way to the sea area off Vietnam where the missing Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines jet is suspected to have crashed.

The emergency team is expected to arrive in Sanya city of south China's Hainan Province Sunday morning and get on board rescue vessels bound for the sea area.

Two warships of the Chinese navy, Jinggangshan and Mianyang, are already on their way to the possible crash site, navy sources said.

The vessel Jinggangshan, loaded with life-saving equipments, underwater detection facilities and supplies of water and food, set out from Zhanjiang city of south China's Guangdong Province at about 3:00 a.m. on Sunday for search and rescue mission.

Two helicopters, 30 medical personnel, ten divers and 52 marines are also on board.

Another Chinese navy vessel Mianyang left for the sea area on Saturday night.

The MOT has urged all Chinese ships passing the sea area to pay close attention and make timely reports.

The Boeing 777-200 aircraft left the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. (Beijing Time) on Saturday, and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. the same day.

Contact with the flight was lost along with its radar signal at 1:20 a.m. on Saturday when it was flying over the Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area in Vietnam.

On board were 227 passengers from 14 countries, including 154 Chinese, and 12 Malaysian flight crew.

Chinese maritime search and rescue has established cooperation with Malaysian and Vietnamese counterparts, and hopes the two countries can help find the exact location of the plane soon.

The whole country has joined the families of the passengers aboard missing plane to pray for their safety.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Chinese embassies and consulates to strengthen contact with departments of relevant countries and pay close attention to the search and rescue work for the missing plane.

All-out efforts must be made for any emergency treatment necessary in the aftermath of the incident, Xi said in his instruction.

The MOT and the CAAC must launch emergency measures immediately and enhance security checks to ensure the "absolute safety" of China's civil aviation operation, according to the president.

Premier Li Keqiang also instructed the government to intensify communication and contact with civil aviation agencies of Malaysia, urging them to intensify the search effort.

He also called for details of the Chinese passengers aboard the plane to be verified as soon as possible.

Relevant departments should cooperate with foreign parties to prepare for emergency rescue and liaise with passengers' families in a timely and appropriate manner, Li said.

Yang Chuantang, Chinese minister of transport, announced the launch of the highest-degree emergency response mechanism.

The ministry is closely observing the incident and actively coordinating with domestic authorities as well as maritime rescue authorities and civil aviation administrations in Malaysia and Vietnam.

The CAAC demanded its air traffic management office keep in touch with its Malaysian counterpart, and ordered Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) to comfort relatives and friends of the passengers aboard the missing flight.

(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2014)

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