By Nguyen Thi Thuy Anh , Le Yanna
HANOI, March 20 (Xinhua) -- International coordination should be strengthened to increase the capacity of joint search and rescue missions once an accident happens as the operation of the aviation sector involves many countries, said Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army.
In a recent interview with Xinhua in Hanoi over one year after the disappearance of Malaysian airliner MH370, Vo Van Tuan said that it is necessary to conduct regular search and rescue exercises and drills, in order to promptly respond to an incident with the highest of efficiency.
"When such incidents occur , by saving just one or two minutes, many more lives can be saved. If we fail to respond in time, it may cause severe consequences. Therefore, the search and rescue forces should be trained well in order to always stay ready," Tuan said.
"At bilateral and multilateral meetings, including those of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and with other regional countries such as China , Japan and the Republic of Korea, Vietnam often mentions issues related to the deployment of joint search and rescue exercises and drills between regional countries for natural disasters and serious accidents among others," Tuan told Xinhua.
Concerned countries should reach a consensus and build plans based on each country's capacity to better coordinate with others, he added.
Recalling Vietnam's search and rescue operation one year ago, Tuan said "Right after receiving the information, Vietnam , in a humanitarian response, tried to mobilize all forces in its utmost capacity to seek for the missing airplane."
"It is the largest search and rescue operation that Vietnam has launched so far with the mobilization of personnel forces and vehicles including planes, ships and vessels of search and rescue agencies, the coast guard, the navy and from the fisheries sector. "
"In the shortest time, Vietnam mobilized the largest-ever force and set up a rescue plan. More than 10 planes and some 20 specialized ships and vessels , as well as numerous fishing boats, which were operating from Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh Flight Information Region (FIR) southward within the country's waters where the plane may have flown, joined the search mission," said the official.
After the mission, the country learned some lessons related to search and rescue work, Tuan told Xinhua , adding that "ensuring safety for the search forces is of great importance as sometimes in such missions, accidents can happen. Therefore, we must strive to ensure the highest safety during missions."
In the meantime, information and communication are also important. Information should be transferred in the fastest, most accurate way possible.
"Once learning about the incident, the Vietnamese minister of defense and the chief of the general staff of the Vietnam People's Army assigned me as commander and spokesperson for the rescue mission. The receiving and releasing of information was centralized , thus ensuring the consistency of information," Tuan told Xinhua.
"During the search mission, as new guidance or plans unfolded, I always talked to reporters and answered their questions in order to ensure the accuracy of information," he said.
"In the long term, I think that there should be technical changes. I hope that engineers in the aviation industry can design systems that can help monitoring the operation of airplanes constantly , instead of waiting for locating the black boxes to analyze reasons after an accident happens," said Tuan.
"I myself hope that the plane will soon be found in order to give us all an answer for the relatives of the victims on the plane," Tuan said.
The Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board. So far no trace of the plane has been found despite a massive surface and underwater hunt.
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