Australia to scour Indian Ocean for missing flight MH370, says report

Malaysia has asked Australia to begin searching the southern parts of the Indian Ocean for missing flight MH370, just days after it announced that the search areas for the aircraft had been widened, The Wall Street Journal said today.

Australia’s Chief Defence Force chief General David Hurley told the business daily that Malaysian authorities coordinating the search had diverted an Australian AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft to begin searching for the vanished wide-body aircraft to the north and west of the Cocos Islands.

The Cocos Islands, an Australian Territory, is located midway between Australia’s west coast and Sri Lanka. It also has an airstrip used by military patrol aircraft to work in areas of the Indian Ocean that are not easily accessible.

“This aircraft is expected to recover to the Cocos Islands overnight and launch from that location on Monday to maximize mission time in the expanded search area,” General Hurley was quoted as saying in a statement.

A second Australian air force Orion would continue to search west of Malaysia, where efforts are concentrated, said the Wall Street Journal.

For the search operation, Australia has provided two aircraft, and Prime Minister Tony Abbot told The Wall Street Journal earlier today that he was willing to offer additional support, but was waiting for a request from Putrajaya before requesting for extra aircraft or ships to help in the hunt for the missing airliner.

Out of the 239 passengers on board the MH370, six of them were Australian.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced yesterday that based on satellite data, the new search areas would cover two corridors. One corridor stretched northwest to Central Asia, while the other stretched south of the Indian Ocean. – March 16, 2014.