Missing MH370: Countries to meet over new stage of search

KUALA LUMPUR - With the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 evolving into a long haul operation, officials from Malaysia, China and Australia will be meeting in Canberra on Monday to work out the requirements.

Head of the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the search for the missing aircraft was expected to continue for the next eight to 12 months.

He said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had recently indicated that bad weather and other factors meant that the search for the missing aircraft would last that long.

Houston told a press conference that he was here to provide consultation ahead of Monday's trilateral meeting. "The meeting is to formalise the way ahead to ensure the search continues with urgency and does not stop at any stage," he said, adding that issues to be discussed included the challenges that would be faced with deep water search.

"We are totally committed as three nations to find MH370. With effective search we will eventually find the aircraft," he said.

At the press conference, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the meeting would discuss the approach in the deployment of assets, technical advice and engaging with the families of passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER plane.

Also present were president of the French Aviation Accident Inves­tigation Bureau (formerly head of the Air France 447 investigation team) Jean-Paul Troadec, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin and Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.

The meeting, Hishammuddin added, was important for everyone to be on the same page as they moved forward in the new phase of the search.

Hishammuddin said he was confident the search operation for MH370 was on the right track but conceded that the challenges ahead were huge.

"With more friends and experts coming on board to make sure we remain focused on what we are doing, I believe we will find MH370, sooner or later," he said.

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