China on Tuesday continued to push Malaysia to step up search efforts to trace the lost MH370 flight, saying Kuala Lumpur was mainly responsible for the efforts to track it down and investigate the reasons behind its disappearance.
China’s comments came as the first batch of 12 family members of passengers of the flight – including three Indians Sanved Kolekar and his wife and Prahlad Shirsat – reached Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, Beijing said it was sending more ships to the waters where it is suspected that the aircraft with 154 Chinese passengers among the 239 on board could have crashed, adding that a team of its officials in Kuala Lumpur was coordinating the search and investigation efforts.
The foreign ministry of China’s comments came soon after Malaysian officials said that one of the two passengers using stolen passport on board Beijing-bound flight from Kuala Lumpur was identified as an Iranian with no link to terrorism.
“The 19-year-old Iranian is not likely to be a member of any terror group and we believe he is trying to migrate to Germany,” Malaysia's national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told a press conference.
Bakar said the identity of the other man using stolen passport was being identified.
China too played down the possible terror link to the incident, saying investigations were still now.
But a report by the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, from the Malaysian capital said the Chinese embassy there said Tuesday “media reports saying that Malaysia ruled out hijacking, mid-air disintegration and radar malfunctioning as cause of missing of MH 370 flight were false.”
The report did not elaborate on the comment from Chinese diplomats in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, the multi-country search and rescue efforts to trace the mysteriously disappeared flight continued on Tuesday – more than three days after it vanished – with more countries pitching with help.
The search area was being widened, agency reports quoted officials as saying from Malaysia and Vietnam.
Agency reports added that dozens of ships and planes from around 10 countries are scouring the waters around Flight MH370's last known location, but no solid clues have been found so far.
The US Navy has dispatched one more Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Kidd, to join the USS Pinckney in the search efforts.
The USS Kidd, according to a Xinhua report brings its two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters designed for search and rescue, as well as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, communications relay, naval gunfire support and logistics support, the U.S. Navy said.
Other countries, including Thailand and New Zealand, also sent search and rescue missions to the targeted sea area. A Thai navy boat was searching the lower part of the Andaman Sea off southern Thailand, while a New Zealand air force P3 Orion aircraft is en route to join the search.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson, Qin Gang said currently four Chinese ships were assisting in the search efforts. Two more he said will be joining the fleet soon and two more will be joining the efforts on Wednesday.
“So there will be altogether 8 Chinese vessels from the government, coast guard and the navy,” he told a regular press briefing on Tuesday.
“The Malaysian side is to dominate and is mainly responsible for coordinating search and rescue efforts,” Qin said, reiterating that the Malaysian authorities were being told to step up efforts.
He said Malaysia, China and other countries were working hard but no substantial progress has been made.
“We require Malaysia to step up rescue and search efforts and also manage other issues like issues related to the families of the passenger,” Qin said.
Qin said the first batch of Chinese relatives of passengers has reached Kuala Lumpur and the working group dispatched by Beijing met them.
According to the joint working group of the Chinese government who received the family members at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, there are twelve relatives of the passengers, including nine Chinese and three Indians.
The Xinhua report quoted Hishamuddin Hussein, acting minister of transportation, as saying that Malaysian authorities were working closely with the Chinese government in handling matters related to the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft.
He said the Chinese joint working group came here to help with the search and rescue operation, offering support to family members of the passengers and identifying two passengers boarding the flight with stolen passports.