Search now focused on the southern part of the Indian Ocean, says Hishammuddin


search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is now exclusively focused on the southern part of the Indian Ocean, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today.

The acting Transport Minister said the operations in the northern corridor had been called off following the satellite data received by Malaysia yesterday.

"Although yesterday's news was incredibly hard for the families of passengers aboard MH370, but we are committed to releasing verified information as soon as possible.

"The operation in the northern part of the southern corridor has also been called off," Hishammuddin told reporters at the Putra World Trade Centre today.

He said the new search in the southern Indian Ocean would cover a total radius of 469,467 square nautical miles.

Investigators are currently working to narrow down the search area even further by using information from satellite surveillance, analysis of surveillance radar data, increasing air and surface assets, and increasing the number of technical and subject matter experts, Hishammuddin said.

The minister revealed that two Korean aircraft left for Perth from Subang airport this morning to help in the search operation.

"No flights from Perth to the search area took place today, due to bad weather," he said.

"Six Chinese ships are currently in the search area. They are expected to arrive within the vicinity of MH370’s last known position by tomorrow morning. These ships include the ice breaker Xue Long," he added.

Hishammuddin also said that the American Towed Pinger Locater – an instrument that can help find a black box - is currently enroute to Perth and will arrive there tomorrow.

"The system will be fitted onto the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which is due to dock in Perth on 28th March. The Ocean Shield, fitted with the Towed Pinger Locater, is due to arrive in the search area on April 5.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had earlier told Parliament that the government's focus now was to search for objects and debris from the aircraft.

“What we have to do in the coming weeks and, perhaps months, is to search for all debris and objects belonging to flight MH370, he said adding that the government was committed to locating the black box.

Hishammuddin said the search for the aircraft's debris would continue in the area, noting that "there remains more work to be done".

"This is a developing situation, and as soon as we know more, we will share it," he added. – March 25, 2014.