Missing MH370: Sophisticated equipment to be deployed

KUALA LUMPUR - More sophisticated equipment will be deployed to complement the present military assets used in the next phase of the multinational search mission for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which has gone missing for 56 days, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today.

Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister, also said the multinational team also plans to work together with entities and research institutions to boost the search mission for the missing Beijing-bound aircraft.

"We will look into deploying more assets and equipment that are available.

"Apart from that, we also plan to include the participation of companies and research institutions from China, Japan and Germany to assist the multinational team," Hishammuddin told reporters here.

He said the assets deployment for the new phase of the search would be among the agenda discussed during a trilateral meeting with the China and Australian governments, scheduled in Canberra this Monday.

Hishammuddin also addressed questions raised over the recently released preliminary reports, which was "thin" in the number of pages if it was compared to the same report prepared for the Air France incident in 2009.

He said unlike the Air France incident, the five-page preliminary reports for MH370 was different since there was no discovery of evidence or wreckage linked to the missing aircraft, which was last detected in the southern Indian ocean.

"It is not the same. Until today, the multinational search mission has yet to make any findings related to MH370.

"And we did not include any leads believed to be connected to the missing aircraft, which were later ruled out, in the report," Hishammuddin said.

And the search mission, which was mounted four hours after MH370 disappeared, Hishammuddin said he would leave it for the recently established International Investigation Team, which is being led by former Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Kok Soo Chon, to probe the matter.

Hishammuddin, however, said the response time in the MH370 was shorter if it was too compare with the search mission mounted in the Air France crash, which took about six hours after the aircraft disappeared.

Meanwhile, on the discrepancies on the number of Malaysian passengers listed in manifest published in the preliminary report, MAS chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said he would look into the matter.

However, Ahmad Jauhari said to his knowledge, the number of Malaysian passengers was 38 people and not 34 people as mentioned in the preliminary report.

On plans for the Malaysian government to deploy vessels belonging to Sapura Kencana on claims that wreckage of MH370 were spotted at Bay of Bengal, Hishammuddin said he would wait the outcome of the search mission initiated by the Bangladesh Navy.

"I have yet to make decision on the matter yet. We will wait for feedbacks from the Bangladesh Navy, which have deployed three vessels without any discovery at the reported area, before deciding on the next course of action," he said.