USN ships search for missing Malaysian plane, Texas man among passengers

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Two U.S. Navy ships are in the Gulf of Thailand Monday helping in the international search for a missing Malaysian Airlines plane with 238 passengers aboard, including a Texas man.

The San Diego-based destroyer USS Pinckney and its two Seahawk helicopters have been searching the waters in the Gulf of Thailand for any signs of the Malaysian airlines flight MH370 since Sunday, a day after the Boeing 777 plane went missing, the U.S. Navy said.

Joining the Pinckney in the search is the destroyer USS Kidd, which also has two Seahawks designed for search and rescue.

The Kidd and Pinckney were conducting training and maritime security operations in international waters in the South China Sea before being sent to assist in the search efforts. Each ship are manned by 300 sailors.

The Pentagon has also sent a P-3-C Orion aircraft from Japan to help in the search.

Investigators are still facing a blank wall as to what happened to the plane as 34 aircraft and 40 ships from several countries combing a 50-nautical mile radius of waters between Malaysia and Vietnam could not find any clue.

A yellow object detected by air searchers at 3:20 p.m. Monday floating off Vietnam is not part of the missing plane but a moss-covered cap of a cable reel based on a lab analysis, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam’s website. The yellow oil slick also detected in the search area is not jet fuel and not related to the said plane, Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency said Monday.

Meanwhile, the Beijing-based girlfriend of Texas native Phil Wood, 50, said he is among the passengers in the missing flight. Sarah Bajc said in an interview with CBS News that Wood was coming from a visit to Texas and was on the flight to Beijing, where they have been living for years.

Two other passengers from the plane work for two separate companies in Pennsylvania. They are Chng Mei Lei and Muktesh Mukherjee.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette identified Chng as a 33-year-old engineer with Flexsys America LP in Washington County. She had been an employee of the chemical company since 2005 tasked with “chemical process optimization and new process development.”

Mukherjee, 42, was a Beijing-based executive for coal supplier XCoal Energy & Resources. His wife was also on the flight.

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