MH370 Search: Malaysian PM to observe SAR operations

KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will be going to Australia to observe first hand the international search and rescue operations going out from Perth for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

"Our Prime Minister has decided to travel to Perth tomorrow for a working visit to Pearce Air force base to see the operations first hand and also to thank the personnel involved in the multinational search effort," said Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

He told the daily press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot yesterday gave Najib a full update on the status of the search operations headed out of Perth.

Hishammuddin said Abbot had described the international cooperation in the search for MH370 as "nothing short of tremendous".

"As Prime Minister Abbot said, it is heartening to see so many different countries working together for a humanitarian cause, to resolve this extraordinary mystery."

Hishammuddin said the Australian High Com­missioner to Malaysia had also briefed him on the creation of a new Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre or JACC which will be at the Pearce Air force base.

He said the JACC would be headed by Air Chief Marshal (ret) Angus Houston, the former Chief of the Australian Defence Force.

"The JACC will co-ordinate operations between all Australian government agencies and international search teams," he said.

Meanwhile Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister, will be going to Hawaii, in the United States, to attend the Asean Defence Minis­ters' meeting from Tuesday to Thursday.

"The meeting is being convened by US defence secretary Chuck Hagel. On behalf of the Malaysian Govern­ment, I will share with my Asean counterparts, and the United States government, the latest developments regarding the search for MH370.

"I will also use this opportunity to discuss the possibility of deploying more specific military assets, in the event that we need to embark on a more complex phase of the operation. I shall be discussing with the United States and our other friends and allies how best we can acquire the assets needed for possible deep sea search and recovery," he said.

Hishammuddin said the militaries of Malaysia, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea are all working to find the missing plane.

"I should also like to point out that Indonesia has given clearance for 94 sorties - by aircraft from nine different countries - to fly in their airspace, as part of this search," he said.

He said nine military aircraft and one civilian aircraft were involved in the search yesterday, including two Malaysian C-130, while 11 ships were also deployed to the area.

Hishammuddin said the Malaysian navy ship KD Lekiu - along with Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield fitted with the towed pinger locator and a Bluefin 21 autonomous underwater vehicle - is due to arrive in the search area on Thursday.

On Saturday, five objects were retrieved by HMAS Success and Chinese ship, Haixun.

"However, it was found that none of these objects were related to MH370," Hishammuddin said.

On Sunday, Australian and South Korean P3 Orion planes made seven and three visual sightings, respectively, of potential objects. Hisham­muddin said the Haixun had been tasked with retrieving these objects.

He also assured relatives of those on board MH370 that Malaysia would not give up on the search.