MH370 Search: 'Wreckage found' claim to be verified

International and Australian aircrews involved in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370 prepare for an official photograph as they stand on the tarmac at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pierce Base in Bullsbrook, near Perth, April 29, 2014.

KUALA LUMPUR - A claim by an Australian exploration company that it has found the wreckage of Flight MH370 in the Bay of Bengal can only be verifed today at the earliest, said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The acting Transport Minister said the claim by GeoResonance would be discussed by the MH370 Technical Committee which meets daily.

"At the earliest, we can only know on Wednesday," he told reporters yesterday.

Later, in a statement, Hisham­muddin said Malaysian authorities needed to hear from more experts while Australia and China were also engaging their experts to verify the claim.

GeoResonance reportedly claimed that it had found the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft six weeks after it left KL International Airport for Beijing on March 8.

The Adelaide-based company said yesterday that the wreckage was found in the Bay of Bengal, 5,000km away from the current search area in the southern Indian Ocean, off Perth.

GeoResonance began its own search on March 10.

In another development, Hisham­muddin said Malaysian authorities would discuss with their international search partners, including Australia, the possibility of increasing assets for the second phase of the search mission.

"This discussion will include issues such as the deployment of assets with deep-sea search capabilities, the cost of operations and how authorities can keep the next of kin well informed of developments.

"The second phase would involve combing the seabed for any sign of wreckage," he said.

He also vowed that the search would not be stopped until the plane was found.

Hishammuddin, who is Defence Minister, announced that former Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Kok Soo Chon had been appointed Investigator in Charge of the International Investigation Team looking into MH370.

He said the team, which had already started work, had accredited representatives from various authorities, including the US National Transport Safety Board, the UK Air Accident Investigation Bureau and China's Aircraft Accident Inves­tigation Department.

"The main purpose of this team is to investigate, evaluate and determine the actual cause of the incident to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future," said Hishammuddin.

Bernama, meanwhile, reported that two Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft are scheduled to return to Malaysia after aerial search for the missing aircraft was suspended following an announcement on the intensification of the underwater search.