Search for Malaysian Plane Expands to Burmese Airspace

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 13 March 2014

RANGOON — The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has expanded to Burmese airspace, according to Burma’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).

Tin Naing Tun, director general of the department, said the DCA granted permission for Malaysian authorities to search over Burmese airspace for seven days, beginning Wednesday, for the Boeing 777 plane that went missing on Saturday while flying over Southeast Asia. He said a Burmese rescue committee had been formed to offer assistance but would not participate in the search without a request from Malaysia.

“A state-level rescue committee has been organized. In the event that the Malaysian government needs assistance from the Burma government, they will communicate and collaborate with each other. With approval from the committee and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we, the DCA, will help them within Burmese airspace,” he told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. He said the search in Burmese airspace would focus on areas around Kaw Thaung city in Tenasserim Division, near the Andaman Sea.

At least 10 countries have joined the effort to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with dozens of ships and aircraft scouring the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam, near where the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers. The plane was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijng, with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board.

Earlier this week, Malaysian and Vietnamese aviation authorities focused on areas between Malaysia and south of Vietnam, where Chinese satellite images showed mysterious debris, but they failed to find any trace of the missing plane. A report by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday suggested that the plane may have continued flying for about four hours after making its last reported contact, meaning it could have traveled hundreds of miles farther than the area currently under consideration.

India has also joined the multinational search, according to local media reports on Thursday, which said New Delhi could provide satellite imagery and radar readings, as well as ships and maritime reconnaissance aircraft, following a request by Malaysian authorities earlier this week.

As the search continues, Burmese have joined others around the world in taking to social media to wait for updates and express concern. Facebook users in the country continue to post comments saying they are praying for passengers on board the plane.

A teenager in Rangoon on the social media site said that since Saturday she has continuously watched television broadcasts and read online media reports for the latest news.

“I’m sorry to hear that two young infants were on board,” she said.