MH370 PRESS BRIEFING BY HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN,
MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND ACTING MINISTER OF TRANSPORT
19 MARCH 2014 5:30PM
The search for MH370 continues. As I stated at yesterday’s press conference, this is now a truly international effort.
Our focus remains the search and rescue operation. We are working on narrowing the search corridor by:
- Gathering satellite information
- Analysing radar data
- Increasing air and surface assets, and
- Increasing the number of technical experts.
We are also taking further steps to address the needs of the families at this difficult time.
I will start by giving a brief operational update.
As we have said, the search for MH370 involves diplomatic, technical and logistical challenges.
Accordingly, the main technical team organising the search and rescue operation has been broken into three groups: a diplomatic team, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; an assets deployment and logistics team led by the Armed Forces; and a technical group retaining overall operational control, which is led by the Department of Civil Aviation.
On the diplomatic front, all 26 countries involved in the search and rescue operation have verbally agreed to assist the operations, and Malaysia has written to all countries formally requesting co-operation. A number of assets which have already been committed are awaiting diplomatic clearance to begin operations. Once we receive formal clearance, we can then speed up the deployment of assets along the search corridors.
As I stated yesterday, although the search is still co-ordinated by Malaysia, our partners are increasingly taking the lead in their own territory and in agreed search sectors. We welcome this, and again would like to thank all our partners for their continued assistance and support.
I can confirm that we have received some radar data, but we are not at liberty to release information from other countries. I appeal to all our partners to continue volunteering any and all information that could help with the investigation and the search for MH370.
Regarding reports that the plane was sighted in the Maldives, I can confirm that the Malaysian Chief of the Defence Force has contacted his counterpart in the Maldives, who has confirmed that these reports are not true.
I am aware of speculation that additional waypoints were added to the aircraft’s flight routing. I can confirm that the aircraft flew on normal routing up until the waypoint IGARI. There is no additional waypoint on MH370’s documented flight plan, which depicts normal routing all the way to Beijing.
On the police investigation, as the Inspector General of the Police confirmed, the case has been classified under Section 130C of the Penal Code. All passengers, crew and ground staff handling the aircraft are being investigated.
We are sharing all information relevant to the case with all relevant international investigative agencies that require it. We have received passenger background checks from all countries apart from Ukraine and Russia, both of which had nationals on board. So far, no information of significance on any passengers has been found.
Local and international expertise has been recruited to examine the pilot’s flight simulator. Some data had been deleted from the simulator and forensic work to retrieve this data is on-going.
I would like to take this opportunity to state that the passengers, the pilots and the crew remain innocent until proven otherwise. For the sake of their families, I ask that we refrain from any unnecessary speculation that might make an already difficult time even harder.
High level team
I would like to announce that in addition to the team that is already on the ground, Malaysia is currently assembling a high-level team that will immediately travel to Beijing. The team will give briefings and updates to the next of kin on the latest situation, and on search and rescue plans.
The team will include representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the Department of Civil Aviation, and Malaysia Airlines.
The team will be led by Lieutenant General Dato’ Sri Ackbal bin Haji Abdul Samad RMAF (Air Operation Commander, Royal Malaysia Air Force), assisted by Ahmad Nizar bin Zolfakar (Director, Air Traffic Services, Department of Civil Aviation) and will include a senior 777 pilot.
We will persevere. Our immediate focus is the search and rescue operation. We are pursuing every means possible to narrow the two search corridors.