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Malaysia plane: China begins land search

China has started searching its territory within the northern corridor for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, state media report.

The international search for the plane has extended into two vast air corridors, north and south of the plane’s last known location.

China said no evidence of terror links had been found in Chinese passengers.

The plane went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board. Some 26 countries are involved in search efforts.

Malaysia says the plane was intentionally diverted and could have flown on either a northern or southern arc from its last known position in the Malacca Straits.

Search efforts are focused on two corridors – one stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and another from Indonesia to the Indian Ocean.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the aircraft’s crew – or other individuals on the plane – were involved in its disappearance.

A total of 153 Chinese nationals were on board the missing aircraft, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Based on background checks, there was no evidence to suggest that the mainland Chinese passengers on the plane were involved in hijacking or launching a terror attack, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said, according to Xinhua.

Meanwhile, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said it would lead a new search in an area in the southern Indian Ocean.

“This search will be difficult,” Amsa Emergency Response General Manager John Young said. “The sheer size of the search area poses a huge challenge – the search area is more than 600,000 square kilometres (230,000 sq miles).”

Late on Monday, US officials said the US navy ship USS Kidd had been taken off the search because the enlarged search area meant that “long-range patrol aircraft” were “more suited” to the mission.

The move was made “in consultation with the Malaysian government”, officials said in a statement. USS Kidd had searched the Andaman Sea but found “no debris or wreckage associated with an aircraft”, they added.

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