Malaysian PM arrives in Australia

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 2, 2014 at 10:16 pm •  Published: April 2, 2014
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PERTH, Australia (AP) — Malaysia's prime minister on Thursday arrived at the Australian air force base serving as a hub for the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, as the coordinator of the multinational search effort warned that the hunt for the jetliner was one of the most complicated searches in history.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met with his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, at the base near the west coast city of Perth, and received a briefing by Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search.

"This is one of the most demanding and challenging search and rescue operations, or search and recovery operations, that I have ever seen — and I think probably one of the most complex operations of this nature that the world has ever seen," Houston told Najib and Abbott.

Najib's trip to Perth reinforces the reality that while Australia is coordinating the ocean search, the investigation into the tragedy ultimately remains Malaysia's responsibility.

"We want to provide comfort to the families and we will not rest until answers are indeed found," Najib said. "In due time, we will provide a closure for this event."

On Wednesday, however, officials warned that the investigation may never produce answers into why the Boeing 777 vanished on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A frustrating dearth of information has plagued investigators from the moment the plane's transponders, which make the plane visible to commercial radar, were shut off.

Military radar picked up the jet just under an hour later, on the other side of the Malay Peninsula. Authorities say that until then, its "movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane," but have not ruled out anything, including mechanical error.

Police are investigating the pilots and crew for any evidence suggesting they may have hijacked or sabotaged the plane. The backgrounds of the passengers, two-thirds of whom were Chinese, have been checked by local and international investigators and nothing suspicious has been found.

The search for the plane began over the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea, where the plane's last communications were, and then shifted west to the Strait of Malacca. Experts then analyzed hourly satellite "handshakes" between the plane and a satellite and now believe it crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean.

Search planes have spent more than two weeks scouring the remote waters for any sign of the plane's wreckage. Houston has said there is no timeframe for ending the search, but acknowledged a new approach will eventually be needed if nothing turns up.

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