KUALA LUMPUR - It has always been Malaysia's priority to find survivors, Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said.
"Miracles do happen. We are still hoping against hope that we can find survivors," he told a press conference here yesterday.
Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister said, that after 31 days, there has been a significant lead in the search for the missing aircraft.
"As stated by the Joint Agency Coordinating Centre (JACC) in Perth earlier, the towed pinger locator deployed from HMAS Ocean Shield has detected signals consistent with those emitted by aircraft black boxes.
"While this may be a step closer towards finding MH370, there are still many steps to be taken before we can positively verify that these signals are from MH370," he said.
He revealed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had a telephone conversation with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott, who updated him on the latest findings regarding the signals detected.
Malaysia also concurs with the statement by Abbott that all parties must be cautious about unconfirmed findings and making conclusions.
"I have also personally spoken to Air Chief Marshal (ret) Angus Houston earlier today (yesterday), who has confirmed the above and has briefed me on the ongoing operations," he said.
Hishammuddin also confirmed that efforts to appoint an independent investigator in charge based on ICAO standards to lead an investigation team are underway.
"Three groups have been established, namely - an airworthiness group to look at issues such as maintenance; an operations group to examine things such as flight recorders, operations and meteorology; and a medical and human factors group to investigate issues such as psychology, pathology and survival factors.
On another matter, Hishammuddin denied a foreign news report which claimed the MH370 aircraft was flying around Indonesian airspace before heading to the Indian Ocean.
Hishammuddin said such reports were untrue.
"It's confirmed there were no sightings of the plane (in Indonesian airspace)," he said yesterday.
On the question that Malaysia is forming too many investigation teams for the tragedy, Hishammuddin said Abbot himself described the search and rescue operation as the most difficult one in human history.
"No matter how many agencies or teams it takes, what can we benchmark it against as it is an unprecedented incident.
"The more experts we have the better," Hishammuddin said.