HO CHI MINH CITY- Boats and aircraft searching for traces of a Malaysian jet that vanished with 239 people on board homed in Monday on a remote Vietnamese island after possible debris was spotted floating nearby.
Two objects were seen from the air late Sunday some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off Tho Chu island, in what Vietnamese authorities said could be a breakthrough sighting of debris from the disappeared jet.
The discovery has helped Vietnamese sea and air teams refine their hunt for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 to a zone near the small island off Vietnam’s southwestern tip.
“All night we mobilized our most modern equipment for the search… but we found no sign of the objects,” Vice Admiral Ngo Van Phat told AFP.
“Two boats left this morning to patrol all maritime zones around Tho Chu Island where we discovered the two objects.”
Three aircraft will run sorties over the area to scour for the possible wreckage, while a command centre for search operations has been established at the larger Phuc Quoc island closer to the Vietnamese mainland.
Two large oil slicks — suspected to be caused by aircraft fuel — were seen on Saturday off Tho Chu.
Malaysian authorities, who have launched a terror probe after at least two of the passengers on board were found to have travelled on stolen passports, said they were continuing to comb waters closer to their shores, further south of Tho Chu.
“We are concentrating on our area,” said Amdan Kurish, head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.