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Malaysia to send a team to Perth to assist in search for MH370

Published on Mar 27, 2014 7:19 PM
One of two Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft being used in the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, is towed on the tarmac of Perth International Airport, on March 25, 2014. China will intensify search efforts for missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 and will continue to press Malaysia for timely and accurate information, a Chinese special envoy told relatives of missing Chinese passengers on Thursday, March 27, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia said on Thursday that it's sending a team to Perth to assist with the search for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370.

The team will consist of representatives from MAS, Department of Civil Aviation, the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Air Force, according to a press statement.

"This team will work closely with the Australian Rescue Coordination Centre to assist with the search operation,'' it said.

The search in the Indian Ocean for MH370 has been hampered again by bad weather on Thursday, according to the statement.

Eleven planes and five ships were supposed to take part in the hunt for MH370 but bad weather forced the Australian authorities to suspend the search operations halfway through the day. 

Meantime, a Chinese special envoy said China will intensify search efforts for the missing flight and will continue to press Malaysia for timely and accurate information, according to Xinhua news agency.

Mr Zhang Yesui, who is also deputy foreign minister, told relatives of missing Chinese passengers that China has employed vast resources in the search, including 21 satellites, over 10 ships and dozens of plane sorties,

He assured the relatives that China is doing its best to push Malaysia to coordinate international search efforts, Xinhua said.

"Our goal is to make every effort to find our missing countrymen. We will not give up as long as there is still a glimmer of hope," Mr Zhang was quoted as saying.

Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, have personally coordinated with other national leaders on the search efforts, he said, adding that the Chinese government will continue to provide help and service to the families.

The special envoy, who arrived here on Wednesday morning, was appointed by Mr Xi to consult with the Malaysian side on the missing flight.

The Malaysian authorities and MAS have come under fire from Chinese relatives for their handling of the disppearance of MH370, especially after Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Monday night that latest UK data analysis showed the last position of the plane was in a remote location in the southern Indian Ocean.

MH370 graphic: Object sightings in Indian Ocean

In Beijing, another briefing to Chinese relatives was conducted on Thursday by a Malaysia delegation led by ambassador to China, Datuk Iskandar Sarudin, and Air Force Lieutenant-General Datuk Seri Ackbal Abdul Samad.

The meeting started on a sombre note, with a five-minute prayer session for the plane's passengers. Many family members, who have been cooped up in Metropark Lido Hotel for 19 days now, cried quietly.

Despite this emotional start, the meeting was less confrontational than the one on Wednesday, as it appeared that the relatives now know the Malaysian delegation could not answer many technical questions about the satellite analysis by British firm Inmarsat.

But one tense moment came when a female relative repeatedly pressed Lieutenant-General Ackbal on whether Malaysia had laws that compelled it to protect all those in its airspace.

"Madam, this is not a courtroom," he finally said. "It is not fair of you to ask us to answer this in a situation like this with the media present. Our understanding with the Chinese Government is that we are here to answer technical questions. If you continue to ask such questions, we will have to reconsider our presence here."

The meeting, attended by about 400 relatives of the 153 Chinese passengers on MH370, lasted for about three hours.