PHU QUOC ISLAND, Vietnam - Vietnam said on Wednesday it was scaling back the search in Vietnamese waters for a Malaysian Airlines jetliner missing for four days, a senior Vietnamese official said.

"We still have plans to search with a few flights today, while other activities are suspended," Deputy Transport Minister Pham Quy Tieu, who heads the Vietnam search, told reporters.

Tieu said searches by ships were being suspended.

He said Vietnam had asked Malaysian authorities for information about reports that the plane, carrying 239 passengers and crew, had changed direction after its last known contact on Saturday but it had yet to receive any response.

Earlier on Wednesday, the head of Malaysia's air force denied making comments that the Malaysian military had last tracked the plane far to the west of its course over the Strait of Malacca.

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