MH370: New phase of deepwater search could take 12 months, says JACC's Houston

Australian Navy ships HMAS Success (left) and HMAS Toowoomba (right) conduct a Replenishment at Sea with United States Navy Ship (USNS) Cesar Chavez in the southern Indian Ocean as they continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

PETALING JAYA - The deepwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has entered a new phase in the southern Indian Ocean, said Joint Agency Coordination Centre chief Angus Houston.

Houston told a press conference Friday that the various agencies have been discussing the challenges involved and the new phase of deepwater search could take up to 12 months.

"But we're totally committed as three nations (Malaysia, Australia and France) to find MH370. And I'm confident that with an effective search, we will eventually find the aircraft," he added.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he will head to Canberra on Sunday for a trilateral discussion with the Chinese and Australian authorities.

"We hope (to discuss) the approach forward with regards to deployment of assets and engagement with families.

"The expert and technical advice that comes from all over the world will be looked at," he told reporters at the press conference.

Hishammuddin said he is quietly confident that the search is on the right track, but with huge challenges ahead.

On reports of an Australian exploration firm, GeoResonance, claiming to have found the MH370 wreckage in the Bay of Bengal, Hishammuddin said:

"That lead can only be confirmed by physically getting appropriate vessels to search that area. But I just want to stress that by doing that, we are distracting ourselves from the main search.

"In the event that the search result is negative, who is responsible for the loss of time? Having more vessels out there (Bay of Bengal) would affect the search in the affected area," he added.

Present was French Aviation Accident Investigation Bureau president Jean-Paul Troadec.

On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board after diverting from its path to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

According to the plane's full cargo manifest, MH370 was also carrying 4.566 tonnes of mangosteens besides 200 pieces of lithium ion batteries weighing about 2.453 tonnes.

The information was released as part of preliminary report on the missing jetliner released by the authorities.