Published On: Thu, Apr 3rd, 2014

Missing Plane MH370: Malaysia PM Najib Razak In Australia

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is visiting Perth, Western Australia, where the search for missing flight MH370 is being co-ordinated.Early on Thursday Mr Najib was briefed on operations as he visited the military base from which search aircraft have been flying.

Missing plane MH370

He was to hold talks with Australian PM Tony Abbott later in the day.

The Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared on 8 March en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was carrying 239 people.

Planes and ships have been scouring the southern Indian Ocean, where the jet is believed to have crashed.

The focus of the search is a 221,000 sq km (85,000 sq mile) area 1,500km (932 miles) west of Perth.

But so far not a single piece of debris from the Boeing 777 has been found.

‘Will not rest’

Mr Najib met search crews at Pearce RAAF base near Perth on Thursday morning, before their planes left for the day.

“I’m very confident we will indeed show what we can do together as a group of nations; that we want to find answers, that we want to provide comfort to the families and we will not rest until answers are indeed found,” he said.

Mr Najib was also expected to visit the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) – from where the search is being led – and issue a joint statement after his talks with Mr Abbott.

Malaysian authorities have come in for heavy criticism over their management of the search, especially from relatives of the plane’s 153 Chinese passengers.

On Thursday, a multinational team of eight planes and nine ships was due to take part in the search.

Weather conditions were fair, with visibility of approximately 10km (6 miles), JACC said.

The British submarine HMS Tireless is also in the southern Indian Ocean and is due to be joined by Royal Navy ship HMS Echo.

The Australian Navy ship Ocean Shield is also on its way to the region and has equipment for detecting the plane’s “black-box” flight recorder.

Experts say timing is critical as the flight recorder may only have enough battery power to send out a signal until 7 April.

In an interview with Australia’s ABC network, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who heads JACC, said that a lack of reliable flight telemetry and punishing conditions at sea were making the operation even more challenging.

“We don’t have a precise aircraft location for six hours before the aircraft went into the water somewhere,” he said.

“The reality is it’s the most complex and challenging search and rescue operation, or search and recovery operation now, that I’ve ever seen.”

Earlier, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said investigators had “cleared” all passengers of possible involvement in hijacking, sabotage or having personal or psychological problems that could have been connected to the disappearance.

But he said that the criminal investigation could “go on and on and on. We have to clear every little thing”.

“At the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause. We may not even know the reason for this incident,” he added.

The police chief said that more than 170 interviews had been conducted with family members of the pilots and crew members, and that even cargo and food served on the plane were being investigated in case of sabotage.