Il-76 Aircrafts Searched for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Monday, 24 Mar 2014 02:54 PM

By Michael Mullins

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China's Il-76 aircraft, the Soviet-made multipurpose strategic military plane, joined the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over the weekend, landing in Australia on Saturday, two days before it was confirmed that the missing Boeing 777 had "ended" its journey in the southern Indian Ocean.

According to Reuters, one of China's two Il-76 aircrafts dispatched to the area spotted two "relatively big" floating objects and several smaller white ones dispersed over several kilometers. China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei could not confirm whether the sighting was connected to the aircraft.

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In addition to the Il-76 aircrafts, China's Air Force also sent one Shaanxi Y-8, China's most popular military and civilian transport-cargo aircraft, to Australia's city of Perth to assist in the search, the Indo Asian News Service noted. In total, 53 Chinese Air Force crew members were deployed to the region between the three planes.

The majority of the plane's passengers on the Boeing 777 were Chinese nationals.

China joined two P-3 Orion aircrafts from Japan, a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion, and several high-tech U.S. military search planes, including a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon, which is believed to be the most advanced search aircraft in the world.

Citing satellite data, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed Monday morning that the plane had gone down in the Indian Ocean. The news comes as a crew aboard the Australian P-3 Orion aircraft located two floating objects in the area where the plane went down, one of which was described as a gray or green "circular" object and the other was rectangular and orange.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Razak that the objects in question would be retrieved as soon as Monday afternoon, NBC News reported.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had 239 people aboard when it went missing on March 8; 227 were passengers and 12 were crew members.

Of the 227 passengers, three were Americans, and two of them were reportedly children. Others aboard the plane included 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, and four French people. The remainder of the passengers on the flight were Chinese nationals.

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