Search for MH370 in northern corridor called off, scale of probe more complex now: Minister

KUALA LUMPUR - The scale of the investigation into the MH370 case has become more complex, Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Tuesday as he announced that the search in the northern corridor has been called off.

The focus of the search is now on the southern corridor, he said. Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Monday night that the Malaysia Airlines plane had "ended" its journey in the southern Indian Ocean, citing new and unprecedented analysis of satellite data for the conclusion.

Analysis by Inmarsat, a British company that provided the satellite data, was convincing enough to show that MH370 had flown along the southern corridor and its last position was over the Indian Ocean west of Perth, the minister said.

He also said that Malaysia Airlines will now take the lead in communicating with the families of passengers on board the plane.

The carrier said earlier on Tuesday that it will bring the passengers' families to the recovery area in Australia once it had approval from the investigating authorities.

Dozens of angry relatives protested outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing on Tuesday, accusing Kuala Lumpur of "delays and deception".

The search for the aircraft was suspended on Tuesday due to bad weather.

Australian officials remained cautious about confirming the location of MH370.

While acknowledging that satellite data was the best they could go on, Defence Minister David Johnston told reporters on Tuesday: "This is a mystery and until we recover and positively identify a piece of debris, everything is virtually speculation."

The vice-chief of Australia's defence force Mr Mark Binskin, speaking alongside Mr Johnston, said: "We are not searching for a needle in a haystack, we are still trying to define where the haystack is."

MH370 recovery graphic