Search and rescue ops will go on, no matter the odds of finding MH370 survivors, says minister

Families of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 want an assurance that Putrajaya will not stop its search and rescue operations to find survivors, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said after meeting them today.

He said it was one of three things the families raised during a two-hour meeting at the Everly Hotel in Putrajaya.

"We are not going to stop with SAR, not just Malaysia but the other 26 countries taking part in the operation.

“We promised that no matter how remote the chances are in finding any survivors, our utmost priority always was that. If there is any information on survivors, we will pursue it," he said in a press conference.

He said the families were relieved after he assured them the search would continue.

He said the meeting also touched on the communication between Malaysia Airlines and the family members.

"They want them to be more sensitive. We can understand family sensitivity. We appeal to everyone to pray and hope that a miracle will happen and that we will find survivors.”

Hishammuddin said, as part of the investigation, Putrajaya had roped in the FBI, CIA and an intelligence unit from China to process imagery details as well on other areas that the investigators were working on.

"We have been in discussion with them at length. Once we corroborate the data and information and all parties agreed to release our finding, we will."

Hishammuddin said there was nothing “sinister” in the simulator used by MH370 pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

"This will be confirmed by the inspector-general of police later," he said.

Searchers scoured a new area of the Indian Ocean for MH370 today, hoping to salvage possible debris from the doomed jet after several hopeful sightings.

But despite having access to considerable assets, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the search teams faced a formidable task given the distances involved.

"We should not underestimate the difficulty of this work, it is an extraordinarily remote location," he said today.

"We are trying to find small bits of wreckage in a vast ocean. While we're throwing everything we have at it, the task goes on."

Planes attached to the multinational operation spotted "multiple objects" floating in the water yesterday after the focus of the search moved to a new zone on the strength of fresh data indicating the plane was flying faster than first thought before it disappeared on March 8.

Authorities stressed that the items sighted could not be verified as coming from MH370 until they were physically examined and ships from China and Australia have been tasked with finding them.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said a Chinese ship, the Haixun 01, began attempting to relocate the objects at first light today.

It was joined by a navy vessel Jinggangshan, which carries two helicopters, China's official state news agency Xinhua said.

Amsa expects six ships to be in place by the end of the day, including the Australian navy's HMAS Success and a total of five Chinese vessels as they comb an area of roughly the size of Norway.

Amsa has 11 military aircraft from six countries – Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States – at its disposal for the search, which is taking place far off Western Australia and about 1,100km northeast of where initial efforts were focused.

Yet the objects they are trying to find are tiny, with New Zealand Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short saying the items spotted from a New Zealand Orion yesterday were mostly rectangular and ranging in size from just 50cm to 100cm. – March 29, 2014.