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154 of the passengers on board the missing flight are Chinese.
Nine vessels, including China’s largest rescue ship Haixun 01, is sailing off from Singapore to waters southeast of the Bay of Bengal and west of Indonesia, covering an area of 300,000 square kilometers, said the national maritime search and rescue center.
Efforts will focus on waters near Sumatra away from regions being searched by other countries, said Zhuo Li, vice director of the center.
According to the plan, four vessels heading north will pass through Strait of Malacca to reach the Bay of Bengal, while five others will travel south passing the Sunda Strait.
The newly-added search areas were decided based on the two possible flight directions made by the jetliner as the Malaysian government announced earlier last weekend.
China’s Navy spokesman Liang Yang said it was a challenging search with the depth of the sea exceeding 4,000 meters and the reflection from the seabed interfering with the sonar.
Meanwhile, the Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said Tuesday that background checks on all passengers from the Chinese mainland on board the missing flight had found no evidence of “links to terrorism’.
“Those passengers could now be cleared of suspicion in principle,” he said.