The hunt for the missing MH370 flight will enter a new phase with intensified investigation over a larger area of the southern Indian Ocean, following a tripartite meeting in Canberra between Malaysia, China and Australia.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss mentioned that meetings would be held to analyse data and information obtained from the search thus far and estimated that the new phase could cost up to a whopping A$60 million (RM181mil).
“One of the key elements of the next stage will be to undertake more detailed oceangraphic mapping of the search area. Much of this area hasn’t been mapped.
“We know the waters are very deep. We need to have an understanding of the ocean floor to undertake the search safely.
“The capabilities for the next search is a mix of towed side scan or synthetic aperture sonar and capable autonomous underwater vehicles.
“Work is under way to tender for these equipment and get them in the water as soon as possible,” Truss said, adding that this process could take two months.
During a joint press conference with acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Chinese Transport Minister Yang Chuantang in Canberra yesterday, Truss also revealed the intention to relocate the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) from Perth to Canberra, to be closer to the Malaysian and Chinese representatives – although the base of operations would remain.
As of now, there have been 334 search flights while about 4.5 million sq km of ocean have been scoured in the search for the plane.
All the countries in the search had until now borne their own costs, added Truss.
Hishammuddin stated that all three countries had expressed urgency to go on with the new phase of the search, citing this as an opportunity for other nations and research institutes to join in.
Yang said there would be no breaks or slacking in the search with authorities pledging full cooperation for the new phase.
He added that the Chinese government would deploy three search vessels and choose a company with sophisticated technological assets to organise a follow-up search.