Thursday, 24 July 2014

Search for missing MH370 plane 'to continue uninterrupted' despite new Ukrainian disaster

Angus Houston heads Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which oversees the search for the ill-fated airliner that is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean on March 8 after veering far off course during a flight from Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The former Australian defence chief was in the Ukrainian town of Kharkiv today as the Prime Minister's special envoy to receive the bodies of Australian victims from the MH17 plane disaster.

The Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down last week by a suspected surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed rebels, killing 298 people.

However, despite the new aviation disaster, the country's Transport Minister Warren Truss vowed the search for Flight MH370 "continues uninterrupted".

He said: "We remain fully committed to conducting a thorough undersea search of the likely impact zone in the Indian Ocean."

Mr Houston's deputy, Judith Zielke will oversee the co-ordination centre and keep the families of the 239 victims updated on the search's progress.

In a crucial final step before a sonar search for the missing Boeing 777's wreckage begins in September, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will conduct seabed mapping using two survey ships covering a 60,000-square kilometre (23,000-square mile) expanse.

Officials concluded an initial search of 850 square kilometres (330 square miles) of seabed to the north was focussed in the wrong place.

The Australian government has search responsibility under international conventions for the area 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) off Australia's west coast, where Flight MH370 is thought to have run out of fuel and crashed.

On Monday, officials also demanded that rebels who hold the MH17 crash site in south-eastern Ukraine co-operate with an independent investigation and allow for victim's remains to be recovered in the latest tragedy.

Experts in accident investigation and victim identification have also been sent to Ukraine as well as a Boeing C-17 Globemaster military transport jet, which will transport bodies to the Netherlands for identification.

Thursday 24 July 2014


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