KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 – Malaysia and its international partners are verifying the credibility of information that the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane could possibly be in the Bay of Bengal. Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said this was in line with Malaysia’s consistent stand of verifying and corroborating any new lead since day one of the search operation. In a statement Monday, he also announced the appointment of former Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Kok Soo Chon as the investigator in charge of the international investigation team looking into the MH370 tragedy. Elaborating, Hishammuddin said Malaysia was aware of a report citing the detection of potential aircraft wreckage in the Bay of Bengal while China and Australia were also aware of it.
“Malaysia is working with its international partners to assess the credibility of this information,” he said. Flight MH370 with 239 people aboard left the KL International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am the same day. A multinational search was mounted for the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then, after it was learnt that the plane had veered off course, in the southern Indian Ocean. Hishammuddin added that Malaysia would discuss with its international counterparts, including Australia, how the new search operation as announced by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday, would proceed.
“This discussion will include issues such as the deployment of assets with deep sea search capabilities, the cost of the operation and how best authorities can ensure the next-of-kin of those onboard MH370 are properly informed of the latest developments,” Hishammuddin said. He noted the fact that MH370 had still not been found underscored the complexity and difficulty of the search operation. “We’re tremendously grateful for the effort the Australian authorities have made, leading the search for MH370 off the coast of Perth,” he said. On the appointment of the investigator in charge of the international investigation team, he said that Kok was also a former permanent representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council (ICAO) in Montreal. He said the team, which had already commenced its work, had accredited representatives from the United States National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) and the United Kingdom Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB).
Others on the team include China’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), France’s Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (DEA), Australia Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and representatives of Asean from Singapore and Indonesia. “Included in the team are also Boeing, who is under US Accredited Representative, and Rolls Royce and Inmarsat, who are under UK Accredited Representative,” he said. Hishammuddin said the main purpose of the international investigation team was to evaluate, investigate and determine the actual cause of the incident to avoid similar incidents in the future. “I would like to stress that this investigation is not aimed at apportioning blame or liability with regards to the incident. It is imperative for the government to form this indipendent team of investors which is not only competent and transparent but also highly credible,” he added.