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Malaysia sends more assets for MH370 search

Malaysia is deploying more assets for the deep-sea search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370 in the new location in the southern Indian Ocean, said Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is deploying more assets for the deep-sea search for the missing jetliner MH370 in the new location in the southern Indian Ocean, said Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Hishammuddin said the Royal Malaysian Navy vessel, KD Mutiara, which has the capability of the multi-beam echo sounder, would join the search efforts to assist in the current bathymetric survey process.

"The ship will set sail on August 4," he told reporters after launching the MH370 Photo Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

Also present were Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Department of Civil Aviation director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

On commercial assets, Hishammuddin said that Petronas, together with DEFTECH and Phoenix International, would immediately deploy a Prosas Side Scan Sonar (Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar), which would be mounted on a mother vessel.

Hishammuddin said another company, Boustead Heavy Industries, together with iXBlue Australia, would also be deploying a deep-towed side scan sonar with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) mounted on the mother vessel called John Lethbridge.

The assets were expected to reach the search area in mid-August and the operational requirements for these assets would be coordinated with the Australian authorities, he added.

He further explained that the Royal Malaysian Navy vessel, Bunga Mas 6 (BM6), which had been actively present since the surface search was carried out in April, would remain in the search area in the coming phase to assist in the search for MH370.

He said BM6 was currently assisting with logistical support and data transfer for the vessels within the search area.

On June 26, the Australian official had announced that the new search area for MH370 would be shifted further south in the southern Indian Ocean, an endeavour that is expected to be concluded in about a year.

The new location, however, would still be in the area where the Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 plane with 239 people onboard last communicated with the Inmarsat satellite before it went missing on March 8, after taking off from the KL International Airport.

The bathymetric or mapping of the sea floor survey is expected to complete in three months, followed by the comprehensive deep-sea search in August.

Asked on the cost for the coming search operation, Hishammuddin said the newly-announced assets deployment would be borne by the commercial companies.

Moving forward, he said there could be a possibility that Malaysia, China and Australia would share and bear the cost of the search operation.

Commenting on compensation to the families of those onboard MH370, Hishammuddin said the matter was the responsibility of the Next-of-Kin Committee, which was now working closely with MAS to settle it according to their timeline.

After the plane went missing, a massive multinational search was launched, first in the South China Sea and later extended to the Melaka Straits and Andaman Sea, before the search teams shifted their attention to the waters off western Australia in the southern Indian Ocean, half way to Antarctica.

On May 29, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre discounted the vicinity of the acoustic signals detected in the southern Indian Ocean in early April as the final resting place of MH370.

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