NZ air force joins search for missing jet

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 10:31 11/03/2014
Warbirds Over Wanaka, 2012
DAVID HALLETT/The Press

AIR FORCE: A RNZAF P3 Orion.

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A New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion is joining the international effort to find a missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 lost over the South China Sea.

The maritime surveillance aircraft left Auckland last night and is now heading to Butterworth near Penang in Malaysia.

Prime Minister John Key said it would work with two Australian Orions and search the sea north of Malaysia.

"Much remains unclear about what has happened to the flight," he said.

"New Zealand wants to do its part in the search and rescue effort to locate the aircraft.

"While we are aware the hope for positive news is fading, our thoughts remain with the family members of those who were on the flight, particularly the families of New Zealanders Paul Weeks and Ximin Wang."

Meanwhile Auckland International Airport said it had increased security checks around the daily Malaysian Airlines' flights.

A spokesman said the airline ordered extra security for their passengers.

It includes an additional screening of all passengers after check-in and just prior to boarding.

It is one step up on the procedures adopted for flights to the United States which involves only random screening at the boarding gate.

An airport spokesman said the new checks had not caused any delays or additional time for passengers.

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