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June 28, 2017

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Military to assist search for missing jet

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday confirmed that a Navy Cheng Kung-class frigate and an Air Force C-130 aircraft were dispatched yesterday from Penghu Island and Pingtung County respectively to aid in the search and rescue of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

The ministry said that the frigate and aircraft were dispatched on the basis of humanitarian aid, adding that vessels and aircraft operating in waters near the South China Sea were instructed to step up search and rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office said yesterday that President Ma Ying-jeou had requested that military vessels and aircraft operating in the South China Sea search for possible signs of Flight MH370's whereabouts.

Presidential Office spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏) said that the president is very concerned about the missing aircraft.

According to Li, the president said that although the last known whereabouts of the aircraft is far from Taiwan, making it hard for the administration to swiftly send search and rescue personnel to the location, Taiwan cannot be absent from international search and rescue operations.

Ma said that Taiwan needs to take action to show its concern, and that the MND has to do what it can and continue searching for signs of the aircraft, Li added.

The president has also requested that the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) under the Executive Yuan lend its assistance to search and rescue efforts.

Furthermore, the president has also requested that the Fisheries Agency under the Council of Agriculture notify fishing vessels in nearby waters to assist in the search.

With 239 people on board, Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on Saturday, March 8 but lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.

As of yesterday, authorities were still unable to determine what had happened to the aircraft; however, it was confirmed that two passengers boarded the flight using stolen passports. The United States has dispatched FBI agents to Malaysia to assist in the investigation but said that there was no evidence of a terrorist attack yet.

According to foreign news agencies, the aircraft didn't relay any distress signals or any other signs of trouble such as rough weather prior to its apparent disappearance.

As of Sunday, 40 ships and 22 aircraft from several countries, including Malaysia's neighbors, the U.S. and mainland China, were involved in the search for the missing flight.

(Related story on page 16)

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