Canberra, March 25 :
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Tuesday said the search operation for the missing Malaysian airliner has now moved to the recovery and investigative phase.
The Malaysian authorities had announced Monday that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean with no chance of any survivors.
“I have today been in further contact with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia to offer him Australia’s continuing help, support and cooperation in what has now moved from a search to a recovery and investigation phase,” Abbott said in a statement to the media.
“This is a very, very difficult task. It’s a long way from anywhere but obviously it is closer to Australia than anywhere else and Australia has much of the capacity needed to get this done as best as it can be,” he added.
Malaysia Airline flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.
The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing the same day. The 226 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.
The plane lost contact along with its radar signal when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Abbott’s statement Tuesday came even as the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) announced that the search operation for the ill-fated aircraft has been suspended for the day “due to poor weather conditions in the search area”.
“Due to rough seas, (Her Majesty’s Australian Ship) HMAS Success departed for the search area early this (Tuesday) morning and is now in transit south of the search area until the seas abate. A sea state ranging between 7 to 8 is forecast today with waves up to two metres and an associated swell of up to four metres,” the AMSA said in its statement.
“The area is also forecast to experience strong gale force winds of up to 80km/h, periods of heavy rain, and low cloud with a ceiling between 200 and 500 feet,” it said.
The search area where the ill-fated passenger jet was assumed to have gone down is 2,500 km southwest of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state.
At his press conference in Kuala Lumpur Monday, Razak said British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have confirmed flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.
“Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth,” he added.
Malaysia Airlines, in a statement to the relatives of all those on board, stated: “We deeply regret that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived… we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.”
It, however, stated that the ongoing multinational search operation would continue, “as we seek answers to the questions which remain”.