Missing MH370: Plane was carrying 3 tonnes of mangosteens

PETALING JAYA - The missing Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 was transporting three to four tonnes of mangosteen in its cargo.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said this in response to a question from a reporter, who asked if there was any hazardous or valuable cargo on board Flight MH370.

"We had a load of mangosteens headed to China.

"It was a large quantity - about three to four tonnes of mangosteens," he said, to laughter from the press members present there.

To another question, he said it was standard procedure in pilot recruitment to have psychological tests.

"Going forward, we will obviously look into all this, and strengthen and tighten all the various entry requirements (for pilots)," he said.

Ahmad Jauhari added that MAS was currently on "Code Tango", its highest security level, since the disappearance of the plane.

"We are right now on Code Tango - that is the internal code - which means a heightened security where we look at every possible security shortcoming or leak. Going aboard a MAS flight is a heightened security environment right now," he said.

Separately, in a statement, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said they were ready to take on the responsibility to coordinate the search effort focusing on the southern Indian Ocean.

"The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will take the lead in coordinating the search effort in the southern Indian Ocean through its Rescue Coordination Centre - Australia, supported by the Australian defence force and other contributing agencies.

"The two RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft which have been assisting the search effort off the coast of Malaysia since last week are being re-tasked to search in the southern Indian Ocean.

"One Orion commenced searching the Indian Ocean to the north and west of the Cocos Islands yesterday.

"The next sweep will take place this evening as an AP-3C Orion transits from the Cocos Islands to RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia," he said.

Abbot added that the country would make additional maritime surveillance aircraft available to extend the effort to locate Flight MH370.

"Since Sunday, March 9, the two AP-3C Orions assisting the Malaysian search effort have flown more than 60 hours on mission.

"On behalf of Australia, I again offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines flight," he said.

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