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MH370: More underwater assets may be deployed in search

The Star/ANN | Farik Zolkepli | Saturday, Apr 19, 2014

Nice to meet you: Hishammuddin greeting China’s Communist Party Secretary of Guangdong province Hu Chun Hua at Shangri-La hotel. Hu was in the country to attend China’s (Guandong)-Malaysia Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference.

PETALING JAYA - The authorities are looking to deploy more underwater assets in the search and rescue operation after more than 40 days since Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 went missing.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the Deployment of Assets Committee led by Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri was considering the possibility of deploying more autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) to search for the missing aircraft.

"His (Abdul Rahim) committee on assets is looking at the possibility of deploying more AUVs," he said in a Twitter post yesterday.

The experience shared by Jean Paul Troadec, a special adviser to France's aviation accident investigation bureau, involved in investigating the 2009 Air France Flight 447 incident, had been helpful for the SaR operation, Hishammuddin added.

He said the committee dealing with families of those on board MH370 would be going to Beijing before heading to Perth next week.

"The committee led by (Deputy Foreign Minister) Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin will be going to the two cities next week.

"Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) chief Angus Houston is looking forward to meeting them," he said.

Hishammuddin also revealed that the setting up of the International Expert Panel of Inquiry into the MH370 tragedy was going on smoothly.

"Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi's committee on the technial aspect is looking at the setting up and appointment of the expert panel.

"I was told that nobody we asked refused us," he said.

Hishammuddin, who is Defence Minister, said he would meet the heads of the three ministerial committees to reintensify efforts.

In Perth, the JACC announced that up to 11 military aircraft and 12 ships were involved in the latest operation.

Overnight, the Bluefin-21 AUV completed another mission in the underwater search area and has commenced mission five.

It has searched about 110 sq km to date.

Data analysis from the fourth mission did not provide any contacts of interest.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has planned a visual search area totalling about 51,870 sq km, across three areas.

Searchers were pushing the hunt beyond the normal 4,500m (15,000 feet) depth range of the US Navy's UAV.

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