Canberra: The search for the Malaysian airliner “lost” in the Indian Ocean will resume Wednesday, Australian authorities said Tuesday while Prime Minister Tony Abbott clarified the operation has now moved from search to recovery and investigative phase.
“A visual search will resume tomorrow when the weather is expected to improve after gale force winds and heavy swells resulted in the suspension of the search operation Tuesday,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in a statement.
“As many as 12 aircraft are expected to be involved in the search tomorrow, including seven military aircraft and five civil aircraft,” it added.
According to the AMSA, the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Success will return to the search area and conduct a surface sweep of an area identified Monday afternoon by a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion as the location “for several objects of interest”.
“A total of six countries are now assisting in the search – Australia, New Zealand, the US, Japan, China and South Korea,” the statement said.
“India has also offered to join the search and recovery operation.”
China’s polar supply ship Xue Long or Snow Dragon and three other Chinese ships are also expected to arrive in the search area on Wednesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Abbott said the search operation for the missing Malaysian airliner has now moved to the recovery and investigative phase.
The Malaysian authorities announced Monday that the flight “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean with no chance of any survivors.
“I have today been in further contact with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia to offer him Australia’s continuing help, support and cooperation in what has now moved from a search to a recovery and investigation phase,” Abbott said in a statement to the media.
“This is a very, very difficult task. It’s a long way from anywhere but obviously it is closer to Australia than anywhere else and Australia has much of the capacity needed to get this done as best as it can be,” he added.
Malaysia Airline flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.
The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing the same day. The 226 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.
The plane lost contact along with its radar signal when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
The search area where the ill-fated passenger jet was assumed to have gone down is 2,500 km southwest of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state.
At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur Monday, Prime Minister Razak said British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have confirmed flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.
“Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth,” he added.
Malaysia Airlines, in a statement to the relatives of all those on board, stated: “We deeply regret that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived… we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.”
It, however, stated that the ongoing multinational search operation would continue, “as we seek answers to the questions which remain”.