Beijing: A top Malaysian defence official today sought to assure distraught relatives of Chinese passengers on board the missing plane that the jet has not been shot down by his airforce.
Air operations commander of the Royal Air Force Lt Gen Ackbal bin Haji Abdul Samad, part of the high-level Malaysian delegation that came here to interact with the relatives of the Chinese passengers, faced tough questions when he met them here.
Asked if it was possible that the plane was shot down by the Malaysian air force, Samad said it was “highly not possible”, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
While the military radar had captured signs of the jet when it turned back and flew over Malaysia, no measures were taken against the plane as it was believed to be a “friendly” aircraft.
Some of the family members believe that the Malaysian government is inconsistent with facts and did not handle the search operations properly, official media reports here said.
Chinese nationals comprise 154 of the 239 people on board the Beijing-bound plane, that went missing on March 8.
The airlines had put up relatives of the passengers on board in a hotel in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur for regular briefings.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and urged him to step up the search operations following the sighting of possible debris by Australian satellites.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily press briefing that China has sent several vessels to a remote area in southern Indian Ocean where possible debris was spotted and got support and cooperation from the Australian side.
Two objects possibly related to MH370 have been sighted in satellite imagery, Australian officials said yesterday. Chinese icebreaker ‘Xuelong’, anchored at the Australian city of Perth, is set to head for the spot.
It would take nearly four days for the icebreaker to arrive in the waters about 1,000 nautical miles from Perth.
Chinese vessel ‘Haixun 01’ is searching for the lost Malaysian jet in waters near Australia’s Christmas Island in the southern Indian Ocean.
The vessel was about 110 nautical miles west of the island and will sail southward to continue searching for any trace of the jet, together with another vessel ‘Nanhaijiu 101’, the report said.
Also three Chinese naval warships are rushing to the southern Indian Ocean, it said.