DCA to lead response team handling MH370 matters: Liow

PUTRAJAYA: Following suspension of the underwater search for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 jetliner which vanished two years ago, a response team led by the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) will be established to handle all matters relating to the incident.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this included information and debris that might be discovered in the near future, with continued commitments from the governments of Australia, China and Malaysia.

"We remain ever hopeful that all of these will point to credible evidence, enabling us to find answers we seek in our effort to locate the missing aircraft.

"It is important to note that all decisions with regard to MH370 has and will always be in the spirit of tripartite cooperation," he said in a statement from Perth, Australia.

In this regard, he added the unprecedented level of support, collaboration and cooperation given by the governments of Australia and China had been instrumental during what had been "a trying time for our nation".

He said the decision to suspend the underwater search had not been taken lightly nor without sadness.

"Whilst combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date, no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft," said Liow.

The transport minister said he joined Australia's Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and China's Director-General of Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Zhi Guanglu on Monday to receive the Fugro Equator vessel at the Australian Marine Complex in Port Henderson.

"On behalf of the Government of Malaysia, I expressed my utmost appreciation to the crew on board the Fugro Equator for its unwavering commitment and efforts in the largest search effort in aviation history," he added.

Liow said it was undoubtedly, a very challenging task for the crew involved in the search operations since the beginning of the underwater search for MH370 in June 2014.

"Their commitment, professionalism and dedications towards the search operations in the hope of finding some answers for the families and loved ones of those onboard MH370 are truly commendable."

Last week, the search operation for MH370, spanning over 120,000km² in the southern Indian Ocean was suspended after almost three years since the MAS plane disappeared while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The search for the plane carrying 239 passengers and crew members which had to date, cost RM500 million will only be resumed if there was new information and concrete evidence.

Flight MH370 vanished from the radar on March 8, 2014, following which search missions were carried out continuously in the Indian Ocean to detect the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

Liow acknowledged that this was a very difficult time for the families and loved ones of the 227 passengers and 12 crewmen on board.

"I wish to reiterate that the aspirations to locate MH370 has not been abandoned as the team of experts continue to analyse the comprehensive data from the search efforts," he said. — Bernama