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Published: Tuesday March 18, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday March 18, 2014 MYT 8:35:27 AM

Australia to lead southern search for plane, says Abbott

SYDNEY: Australia will take responsibility for the “southern vector” of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with 25 countries now involved in a huge operation to locate the plane, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

Abbott, who earlier yesterday told journalists he had no information that the flight may have come close to Australia, said he was responding to a request from Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“He asked that Australia take responsibility for the search on the southern vector, which the Malaysian authorities now think was one possible flight path for this ill-fated aircraft,” Abbott told parliament.

“I agreed that we would do so.

“I offered the Malaysian prime minister additional maritime surveillance resources which he gratefully accepted.”

Abbott said the defence chiefs of Australia and Malaysia were discussing how to implement the arrangement.

“Australia will do its duty in this matter. It will do our duty to ensure that our search and rescue responsibilities are maintained and upheld,” he said.

“And we will do our duty to the families of the 230 people on that aircraft who are still absolutely devastated by their absence and who are still profoundly, saddened by this as yet unfathomed mystery.”

Australia has two Orion surveillance aircraft assisting with the search for the plane, which was en route to Beijing when it disappeared. Abbott said one of those had now been redeployed to the Indian Ocean. — AFP

Tags / Keywords: world

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