MH370: Malaysia, Australia and China to discuss next step in search

Malaysia, Australia and China will hold a trilateral meeting next week to decide on the next step in the costly and frustrating hunt for the missing Malaysian jet.

PTI| Last Updated: May 02, 2014, 17:45 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia, Australia and China will hold a trilateral meeting next week to decide on the next step in the costly and frustrating hunt for the missing Malaysian jet, even as officials said it could take up to a year to find the final resting place of the plane.

"That`s a very important meeting because it will formalise the way ahead to ensure that this search continues with urgency and doesn`t stop at any stage," Australian search coordinator Air Chief Marshal (retd) Angus Houston said of the meeting in Canberra.

The proposed meeting follows a decision this week to scale back the costly search operation, including ending the aerial search for surface wreckage, in the southern Indian Ocean that has so far turned up no wreckage.

Houston noted that the search will take at least 8-12 months but said they were totally committed to find the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that went missing on March 8.

"We need to continue to search, we owe it to the families," Houston, who is currently visiting Malaysia, told reporters here.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he would attend the meeting.

Hishammuddin said he was confident that the aircraft will be found. "I believe we will find MH370 sooner or later."
Hishammuddin said Malaysia remains focused on finding the missing plane and more experts were on board the search team to find the Boeing 777-200.

He said he will travel to Canberra for the meeting on Monday.

A robotic mini-submarine is continuing to scan the Indian Ocean floor with still no sign of the plane`s debris.

Malaysia yesterday released a preliminary report on the mysterious disappearance of the plane, according to which Air traffic controllers failed to notice for 17 minutes that the ill-fated jet had gone off the radar and did not activate a rescue operation for nearly four hours.

Malaysian?authorities also released the plane`s full cargo manifest along with the report, saying the aircraft was carrying 4.566 tonnes of mangosteens, a fruit, besides 200 pieces of lithium ion batteries weighing about 2.453 tonnes.

The Beijing-bound plane - carrying 239 people, including five Indians, an Indo-Canadian and 154 Chinese nationals - had mysteriously vanished on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
The mystery of the missing plane continues to baffle aviation and security authorities who have so far not succeeded in tracking the aircraft despite deploying hi-tech radar and other gadgets.
The search for the jet has been exhausting and expensive with estimates suggesting it may cost nearly USD 60 million.