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Philippines halts MH370 seach, disputed sea scanned

Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - March 17, 2014 - 5:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — The country's efforts to help in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 temporarily halted on Sunday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

"Search units have scoured all areas [in the West Philippine Sea]," Gazmin said in a state news report on Monday. The West Philippine Sea is the subject of contention between China and the Philippines, a case due for arbitration before a United Nations court.

Read: Philippines joins search for missing Malaysian jet | AFP sets aside sea row with China for plane search

Gazmin said that the operations will resume once military officials have leads on the possible whereabouts of the Boeing 777-200 passenger aircraft that disappeared on March 8. It was carrying 239 people.

The Department of National Defense ordered the deployment of newer, more notable armed forces assets including a C-130 aircraft, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar frigate, BRP Emilio Jacinto patrol corvette and a recently acquired AW-190 helicopter.

The Palawan-based Western Command led the search, which started a day after the plane went missing.

Related: Philippine Navy crew in Malaysian jet search still training

The Malaysia Airlines has thanked the Philippines and neighboring countries for their assistance in the search and rescue operations.

To date, about 25 countries have offered resources to locate the missing plane.

Malaysia's government said police on Saturday searched the homes of both the pilot and the co-pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet. It said police were examining an elaborate flight simulator taken from the home of 53-year-old pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

Police also are investigating engineers who may have had contact with the plane before it took off. - with Associated Press

ASSOCIATED PRESS CHINA AND THE PHILIPPINES DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE EMILIO JACINTO GAZMIN MALAYSIA AIRLINES PHILIPPINE NAVY SEARCH WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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