MH370: Twelve aircraft in today's search

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 12 aircraft are involved in the search today for flight MH370 that is believed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in a statement issued here today that seven of the aircraft were military planes and the other five were civil aircraft.

"A total of six countries are now assisting in the search and recovery operation – Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea," it said.

The participating military aircraft were an Ilyushin IL-76 from China, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion aircraft, two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion, a US Navy P8 Poseidon, a Japanese P3 Orion and a Republic of Korea P3 Orion.

"Two civil aircraft have now departed Perth for the search area. The remaining three civil aircraft will depart for the search area between 10 am and midday," it said.

AMSA also said that a total of 34 State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers from Western Australia would be air observers on board the five civil aircraft.

Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea.

It was to have landed in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day. A multinational search was mounted for the aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then over a large tract of land and sea west of Malaysia, including the Indian Ocean, when it was learned that the plane had veered off course and flown for seven hours after someone deliberately switched off the communication system on board.

The search then focused on two corridors, namely the northern corridor which stretches from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and the southern corridor which stretches from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

After satellite imagery showed objects which looked like debris, military aircraft and ships of the multinational search team proceeded to the area in the southern Indian Ocean.

Following an unprecedented type of analysis of satellite data, United Kingdom company Inmarsat and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) informed Najib that they had concluded that flight MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak announced last Monday: "It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean." – Bernama