Latest sightings by Australia "credible" but not confirmed: Malaysian minister
Published on Mar 20, 2014 5:40 PM
KUALA LUMPUR - Every effort is made to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Thursday, stressing that the latest "credible" sightings are yet to be confirmed.
The search for the missing plane entered its 13th day on Thursday and efforts were redirected to a location some 2,500 kilometres south-west of Perth after Australia said that two objects - one estimated at 24 metres long - had been spotted in the southern Indian Ocean.
At a daily press briefing, Mr Hishammuddin said Prime Minister Najib Razak received a call from his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott on Thursday morning on the latest findings.
He added that the latest sightings, while credible, are yet to be confirmed if they are linked to MH370.
"Today, at least there is a credible lead ... that gives us hope. As long as there is hope, we will continue," Mr Hishammuddin said.
Currently, there are 18 ships, 29 aircraft and six ship-borne helicopters deployed in the search along two corridors stretching from the southern Indian Ocean to South and Central Asia.
“Until we are certain that we have located MH370, search and rescue operations will continue in both corridors,” Mr Hishammuddin said.
“For families around the world, the one piece of information they want most is the information we just don’t have: the location of MH370,” he added.
A high-level team is leaving for Beijing on Thursday evening to help the Chinese families, he added.
Describing it as the "best lead we have", Australian Maritime Safety Authority official John Young told a press briefing in Canberra earlier on Thursday that the objects were "bobbing up and down over the surface".
Australia has sent four search aircraft - including one each from the US and New Zealand - and two ships to the area where the debris was located while another merchant ship has also been asked to go there. It takes four hours for an aircraft flying out of base in Perth to reach the location.
Mr Abbott told parliament the images represented "new and credible information" but stressed that the link with flight MH370 had still to be confirmed.
Families of the passengers aboard the plane are due to be briefed on Thursday night by Malaysia investigators on the latest findings.
Some remained hopeful that their loved ones are still alive.
Mr Selamat Omar, father of Malayian engineer Khairul Selamat who took the flight told The Straits Times: "We are still waiting for verification from the authorities. If it's really MH370, we will accept that fate."
Mr Wen Wancheng, whose son is a passenger on the flight, said in Beijing: "My son is still alive. I don't believe the news."