KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 (Bernama) — The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) are to search for a missing Malaysian airliner by deploying their assets in the so-called southern corridor, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Monday. The southern corridor stretches from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean, as opposed to the northern corridor which stretches from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand. Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, said the number of countries involved in the search-and-rescue (SAR) operation had risen from 14 to 26.
They were Malaysia, Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent diplomatic notes to all countries along the northern and southern corridors and all countries from which we are requesting assistance,” Hishammuddin said. He said the diplomatic notes set out the specific support and assistance required, including radar and satellite information; land, sea and aerial search operations; search-and-rescue action plans for relevant countries and details of any information required from Malaysia.
Hishammuddin also confirmed that three officials from the French Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authority (BEA) had arrived in Kuala Lumpur to help with the SAR operation. These officials will share their expertise and knowledge based on the experience they had gained during the search for Air France Flight 447 that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil when flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009, killing all 228 passengers and crew. Flight MH370, carrying with 227 passengers and 12 crew, disappeared about an hour after leaving the KL International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8. It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6.30 am on the same day. The fate of the passengers on the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft is unknown as the multi-national search for the aircraft has drawn a blank so far.