Not relenting in their joint mission to locate the missing Malaysian flight MH370, Malaysia and Australia have committed to spend AU$60 million (RM180 million) for the elusive Malaysia Airlines aircraft that went missing somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean on March 8.
Announcing it, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the contribution will be used to undertake new underwater search for the aircraft in the ocean sea bed. “It will utilise the best available technology,” he said, in a joint press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the Malaysian PMO on Saturday.
Returning from India where a nuclear fuel supply agreement was signed, Abbott visited Kuala Lumpur for a day’s visit. He discussed among other issues, Flight MH370, which went missing carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members while flying over the South China Sea on its way to Beijing.
A multinational search was mounted for the aircraft in the South China Sea and Andaman Sea before Najib announced on March 24 that Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”. The search for the aircraft is ongoing.
Abbot also said a memorial to honour pssengers on board the MH370 flight will be built in the Australian western coastline. “But it must be subject to the Malaysian Government and the families,” he said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib thanked Abbott on behalf of the Malaysian Government and its people for the Australian government’s support and resources dedicated in the challenging search for MH370.
“In this regard, we recall the signing of the MoU between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Australia, in relation to MH370, which provides the framework and broad parametres for cooperation in the search for MH370,” he said.
Backed by new funding, an intensified underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will start 15 days later for the wreckage, in addition to ongoing mapping through a sonar survey, utlising “the best available technology. It will last as long as it needs to scour the seabed.”
Experts have hinted, after analyzing technical data so far, that the MH370 should have crashed somewhere deep under the southern Indian Ocean, necessitating the need to a vast stretch of ocean measuring 60,000 square kilometres (23,000 square miles).
Najib’s government and the national flag carrier were widely criticised over what many saw as a disorganised and secretive response to MH370’s disappearance.