Specttrum News: Vietnam scaled back its search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane Wednesday morning while blasting Malaysia for ignoring multiple requests for updates.
When asked if Vietnam was disappointed with Malaysia's silence, Vice Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu suggested that Malaysia hasn't done enough for passengers.
"In order to answer this question, I think you should ask the families of the people on that flight, they could better answer that," he said at a press briefing on this tourist island off the southwestern edge of Vietnam, where rescue teams had launched their searches.
The suspension of full scale operations followed press reports Tuesday that the Malaysian military tracked flight MH370 to the west coast of Malaysia, far from where the plane lost contact with air traffic control Saturday. The jet was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared from radar screens in the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.
Vietnam said it reached out to Malaysia twice for information but has not heard back. "We're waiting to see if they need anything," Tieu said. "But we think, between last night and this morning, there's been a lot of information from the world media, but officially Malaysia has not been responding."
Besides China, whose citizens make up the majority of passengers, Vietnam has been a key search partner for Malaysia. As a precautionary measure, Vietnam will continue to monitor its air space for notable activity because Malaysia has not officially announced whether it's found flight MH370. Still, most of Vietnam's efforts are at least on pause.
"Today we announce that all air and naval forces now engaged in the airplane rescue mission have halted," said Pham Van Long, vice director of Vietnam's Southern Aviation Authority, also speaking at the command center here on Phu Quoc Island.
While Vietnam did not say the search was ending permanently, it is unlikely to resume looking for an aircraft that is believed to be near the Strait of Malacca. For Vietnam, the sudden tension with Malaysia could be a bittersweet coda to an aviation mystery that has perplexed the world.
After flight MH370's disappearance, Vietnam jumped to help in the pursuit of the missing jetliner’s whereabouts. Its efforts were a point of pride for the country, which carried no blame for the crisis but had a chance to make a notable contribution.