Malaysian authorities have released a statement that debris seen around Southern Vietnamese waters believed to be parts from the missing Malaysian airliner are actually not.
It was earlier reported that a Vietnamese search team has found what they believe is part of a door and an airplane’s tail.
Malaysian authorities have, however, said there was no confirmation they came from the Boeing 777 which slipped off radar screens early on Saturday, an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.
“Unfortunately ladies and gentleman, we have not found anything that appears to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft itself,” said Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman.
“This unprecedented missing aircraft mystery — it is mystifying and we are increasing our efforts to do what we have to do,” he told a press conference.
Malaysia has launched a terror probe after at least two of the passengers on board were found to have travelled on stolen passports.
But Azharuddin had few answers to the burning questions surrounding the plane’s fate. Asked whether it was possible the plane had been hijacked or disintegrated mid-air, he said nothing could be ruled out.
“We are looking at every angle. We are looking at every aspect of what could have happened,” he said. “Again, we have to get concrete evidence… we have to find the aircraft.”
More than 150 Chinese are among the missing passengers and Beijing’s state media on Monday lashed out at Malaysia and its national carrier over their handling of the crisis.
“The Malaysian side cannot shirk its responsibilities,” the Global Times newspaper, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, wrote in a scathing editorial. “The initial response from Malaysia was not swift enough.”
The search effort has zeroed in on waters off the remote Vietnamese island of Tho Chu, near where two large oil slicks — suspected to be caused by aircraft fuel — as well as the suspected debris were spotted on the weekend.
“All night we mobilised our most modern equipment for the search… but we found no sign of the objects,” Vice Admiral Ngo Van Phat told AFP of the hunt centred on Vietnam’s southwestern tip.
Tests on the oil slick that could indicate whether it came from the missing plane could be completed by later Monday, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency director general Amdan Kurish told AFP.
Malaysian authorities said they were also combing waters closer to their shores, further south of Tho Chu.
A total of 40 ships and 34 aircraft from an array of Southeast Asian countries, China and the United States have been involved in the search, with two Australian surveillance aircraft joining.