Leaders of the two countries heading multinational efforts to solve the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 yesterday pledged that no effort would be spared to give the families of those on board the answers they need.
Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak flew to Australia for briefings on the search for the missing plane and talks with his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, whose country is overseeing the hunt in a huge and remote patch of the Indian Ocean.
“It is a very difficult search – the most difficult in human history. But as far as Australia is concerned, we are throwing everything we have at it,” Mr Abbott said in a media appearance with Mr Najib.
No trace of the Boeing 777 has been found nearly four weeks after it vanished in the early hours of 8 March on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Ten planes and nine ships were involved in search operations yesterday, scouring the ocean far off Australia’s southwest corner where investigators believe the plane may have ended up after unknown events occurred on board.
Mr Najib, whose government has been harshly criticized by some victims’ families for giving sometimes conflicting information about the flight and for the slow pace of the investigation, said everyone involved in the search is thinking of the families of victims.
“I know that until we find the plane, many families cannot start to grieve,” he said. “I cannot imagine what they are going through. But I can promise them that we will not give up. We want to provide comfort to the families and we will not rest until answers are indeed found. In due time, we will provide a closure for this event.”
Mr Najib met with Mr Abbott at the Australian base near Perth that is serving as the hub for the multinational search effort.
Although Australia is co-ordinating the ocean search, the investigation into the tragedy ultimately remains Malaysia’s responsibility. Mr Najib said Australia had agreed to be an “accredited representative in the investigation,” and would work with Malaysia on a comprehensive agreement on the search.
Police are investigating the pilots and crew for any evidence suggesting they may have hijacked or sabotaged the plane. The backgrounds of the passengers have been checked by investigators and nothing suspicious has been found.
Yesterday’s search zone was a 86,000-sq mile patch of the Indian ocean northwest of Perth – part of a larger area crews have been scouring since last week.
The British navy’s HMS Echo reported one alert as it searched for sonic transmissions from the missing plane’s flight data recorder, but it was quickly discounted as a false alarm.
False alerts can come from sea creatures such as whales, or interference from shipping noise.
Mr Abbott said everything that possibly could be done to find the plane would be done, but cautioned, “we cannot be certain of success.”
Mr Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, also travelled to Perth, where she met with Danica Weeks, whose husband, Paul Weeks, was among those on Flight 370. Mrs Weeks said the meeting gave her some comfort and confidence the Malaysians are committed to finding answers.