No scaling back of search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, says Oz PM

Apr 01 2014, 09:49 IST
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Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) crewmen (L-R) Flight Lieutenant Les Hall, Flying Officer Joshua Wyatt and Flight Lieutenant Joshua Williams look at a newspaper article detailing their continuing search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 1, 2014. (Reuters) Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) crewmen (L-R) Flight Lieutenant Les Hall, Flying Officer Joshua Wyatt and Flight Lieutenant Joshua Williams look at a newspaper article detailing their continuing search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 1, 2014. (Reuters)
SummaryMalaysia has been criticized for its handling of search, particularly its communications to media and family.

Although it has been slow, difficult and frustrating so far, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane is nowhere near the point of being scaled back, Australia's prime minister said.

The three-week hunt for Flight MH370 has turned up no sign of the Boeing 777, which vanished March 8 with 239 people bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Ten planes and 11 ships found no sign of the missing plane in the search zone in the southern Indian Ocean, about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) west of Australia, officials said.

Also see: Malaysia Airlines MH370: 7 'treasured' secrets plane's black boxes hold

The search area has evolved as experts analyzed Flight 370's limited radar and satellite data, moving from the seas off Vietnam, to the waters west of Malaysia and Indonesia, and then to several areas west of Australia. The search zone is now 254,000 square kilometers (98,000 square miles), about a 2{-hour flight from Perth.

Malaysia has been criticized for its handling of the search, particularly its communications to the media and the family. In something likely to fuel those concerns, the government changed its account of the final voice transmission from the cockpit.

In a statement late Monday, it said the final words received by ground controllers at 1:19 am on March 8 were ''Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero.'' Earlier the government said the final words were ''All right, good night.'' The statement didn't explain or address the discrepancy. The statement also said investigators were still trying to determine whether the pilot or co-pilot spoke the words.

Items recovered so far were discovered to be flotsam unrelated to the Malaysian plane. Several orange-colored objects spotted by plane Sunday turned out to be fishing equipment.

Those leading the effort remain undaunted, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying Monday that officials are ''well, well short'' of any point where they would scale back the hunt. In fact, he said the intensity and magnitude of operations ''is increasing, not decreasing.''

''I'm certainly not putting a time limit on it. ... We can keep searching for quite some time to come,'' Abbott said at RAAF Pearce, the Perth military base coordinating the operation.

''We owe it to the families, we owe it to everyone that travels by air. We owe it to the anxious governments of the countries who had people on that aircraft. We owe it to the wider world which

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