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Malaysia sets up international panel to probe disappearance of MH370

Published on Apr 23, 2014 6:44 PM
 
Malaysia's Defence Minister and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein speaks at a news conference inside the hotel near the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur, on April 17, 2014. Malaysia's Cabinet has approved the appointment of an international investigation team to look into the cause of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

Malaysia's Cabinet has approved the appointment of an international investigation team to look into the cause of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

“The main purpose of the international investigation team is to evaluate, investigate and determine the actual cause of the accident so similar accidents could be avoided in the future,” acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news briefing on Wednesday.

Members of the panel, to be announced next week, will be ''independent, accredited and competent'', and they will decide when to release reports relating to MH370, said Mr Hishammuddin. He added that Malaysia will try to include Singapore in the team because of its experience in handling the crash of Silk Air MI185.

The panel, to be coordinated by the deputy transport minister, will not look into any criminal aspects as those will be handled by the police.

Mr Hishammuddin told reporters the search operation for the missing jet will continue until the entire targeted search area in the Southern Indian Ocean is covered. Malaysia is also in talks with its partners to increase assets for deep sea search, he said.

No debris from MH370 has been found so far, despite the US navy robotic submarine Bluefin 21 having covered more than 80 per cent of the targeted search area. The area of 310 sq km is thought to be where the plane is most likely to have gone down, based on "ping" signals that match those from an airliner's black box. Those signals were picked up by search vessels two weeks ago but are thought to have ceased when the beacons' batteries ran out.

Mr Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Head of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), said they have received a report from Australian authorities about objects that had washed ashore south of Perth, but there has been no confirmation that the objects are related to the missing plane.

The plane disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Radar and satellite signals have shown the jet veered far off course for unknown reasons. 

When asked about another Malaysia Airlines plane which had to turn back in mid-flight on Sunday evening, Mr Hishammuddin said the number three wheel of the plane had burst and investigations are still ongoing.

Flight MH192, a Boeing 737-200, was ordered to turn back at about 10.25pm after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 10.09pm on Sunday, the airline said. It was scheduled to arrive in Bangalore at 11.35pm local time on the same day. 

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