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Malaysia expands SAR ops for missing US sailors

PUTRAJAYA: The search and rescue operation (SAR) for 10 American sailors who are missing after the USS John S. McCain collided with the Liberian-registered MV Alnic MC has been extended northwards on its fourth day.  
The collision happened some 4.5 nautical miles from the coast in Teluk Ramunia on Monday.  
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director-general Maritime Admiral Datuk Zulkifli Abu Bakar said the SAR ops will continue and be expanded towards the north.  
“Search and rescue units headed by the Maritime Rescue sub centre and MMEA in Johor Baru have coordinated the movement of SAR assets from MMEA, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), Marine Police, Malaysian Army and the Marine Department towards the northern side of Malaysian waters,” he said.  
“The SAR, on this fourth day, is focused on two major sectors, the marine sector and air sector.  
“The search area has been expanded to cover 850 sq nautical miles (1,600 sq km) in both sectors,” he said in a statement on Thursday.  
Zulkifli said they are focusing their search in the northern area near Pulau Tioman.
“Assets that were operating on the northern part of the incident are also nearby and have been instructed to monitor the area.  
“Today, the MMEA again contacted and asked for assistance from Indonesia through its National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), which already has assisted the SAR by focusing the search in their waters,” he said.  
He added that Indonesia had mobilised four vessels – namely KRI KritKRI Pulau RusaKN Purworeja and RB 209 
Zulkifli said a P3 C-Orion aircraft from Australia and US Navy aircraft have also joined in the search.  
He said that other foreign agencies are asking Malaysia's permission to be part of the SAR as the incident occurred in Malaysian waters.  
The US Navy said Thursday that the body found earlier was not one of its 10 missing sailors.  
Medical examination of the remains, which the Malaysian navy discovered about eight nautical miles northwest of where the collision took place, confirmed it was not one of its sailors, the US Seventh Fleet said in a statement.  
The body would be returned to Malaysian authorities, it added.
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