China should build search and rescue (SAR)transport facilities like airports and ports on the South China Sea in response to marine and air accidents, a political advisor said on Sunday, in light of an ongoing multinational search for a missing airplane.
Yin Zhuo, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and an information technology expert, said China's SAR capacity on the South China Sea is far from what is needed for dealing with emergencies like shipwrecks and air crashes.
"It is imperative to build SAR ports and airports on the South China Sea," Yin said.
Yin noted that aircraft sent by China's maritime SAR center are capable only of relatively short flights, and there is quite a long distance between where they take off and the far-away waters on the South China Sea.
"They [SAR aircraft] can reach there, but will be unable to return," Yin said.
In the case of an air crash, SAR ships and planes will be dispatched in first time to locate the black box of the crashed plane, so offshore facilities like ports and airports will be needed for an interim stop, according to Yin.
Under the international convention, each country will have its SAR area of responsibility based on areas of national jurisdictions.
China is responsible for SAR on the majority of the vast waters of the South China Sea, Yin added.
Yin's remarks came as joint search efforts from China, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam have been launched to hunt a Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight that vanished from radar since Saturday morning and is suspected to have fallen into the sea.
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for Beijing at 12:41 a.m. (Beijing time) on Saturday and was carrying 239 passengers and crew from 14 countries and regions, including 154 Chinese.
There has been no confirmed information about the whereabouts of the plane yet.