SEPANG: A number of rescue aircraft searching for a missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane spotted what looked like the tail of an aircraft in the South China Sea, but ships rushed to the spot found it to be logs tied together to form a pontoon.
This was disclosed by Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman at one of the periodic news conferences held since the disappearance of Flight MH370 at about 1.30 am on Saturday when it was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
He said there had been no confirmation that debris from the missing aircraft had been found by any of the agencies in the search operation although there were rumours that parts of an aircraft were spotted floating in the South China Sea.
The MAS Boeing 777-200ER had gone missing in the airspace between Malaysia and Vietnam 49 minutes after taking off from the KL International Airport at 12.41 am on Saturday with 239 people, including 12 crew, on board.
"There were reports by various media that aircraft parts were found by various rescue agencies. Last night, some media reported that Vietnamese authorities had spotted an object believed to be an aircraft door.
"But the report was not verified officially by the Vietnamese authorities. We immediately called them and they confirmed that they had not spotted any such object," he said.
Azharuddin said the authorities remained puzzled as there were no signs of the missing aircraft more than 60 hours after it had disappeared.
He said a sample of an oil slick spotted by the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) off Tok Bali, Kelantan, on Sunday had been sent to the laboratory to determine whether it came from the missing aircraft.
"Hopefully, when we receive the report from the lab, we will have something to announce," he said.
He said hard and concrete evidence, such as parts of the aircraft body, were needed in order to conduct a forensic study and analyse what happened to the aircraft.
The media and many experts from around the world had come up with many theories of how the aircraft could have gone missing 'just like that', he said.
"We cannot discount any possibility. We're equally puzzled as well," he said.
Azharuddin said a search was also being conducted in the northern area of the Strait of Melaka as they did not want to discount the possibility of the aircraft having turned back.
He said the authorities, with the cooperation of the various countries, would intensify efforts to locate the missing aircraft.
For now, the air search was conducted daily from 7 am to 7 pm, while the search by ships continued throughout the night.