KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 – Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein on Saturday gave his assurance that the search for missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight 370 will continue despite plans to regroup and reassess the operation. He said the search operation team under the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) set up by Australia and other partners, would, however, consider other approaches including widening the scope of the search and utilising assets that could be relevant to the hunt which entered its 43rd day today. Besides maintaining the deployment of the Bluefin-21 mini-submarine for the underwater search, Malaysian authorities were now looking at the possibility of adding more commercial assets in the operation, he told a media conference on the development of the hunt for the missing plane here today. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had said the search operation would be regrouped and reconsidered if there were no new updates “in the next few days”.
“Here, companies like Deftech, DRB, Boustead and several Malaysian companies have met and discussed with their foreign counterparts on how we could increase AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) to help the search effort,” explained Hishammuddin. Hishammuddin confirmed that the Bluefin-21, an AUV, had captured clear and sharp images of the seabed while conducting its underwater search missions. “However, from all six missions conducted, no contacts of interest have been found to date,” he said, adding that the mini-submarine’s seventh mission started this morning. He also dismissed media reports indicating that it would take the AUV between six weeks to two months to scan the entire underwater search area .“This is incorrect. The immediate search area that the Bluefin-21 is now scouring should be completed within the next week,” he said. The minister noted that it was now timely for the parties involved in the search operation to consider and discuss the use of submarines.