Australian officials say they are committed to finding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean four months ago, even though international attention has shifted to the recent downing of another Malaysia Airlines plane, Flight 17, in Ukraine. Australia has led the effort to recover the missing MH370 aircraft, and its leaders say the operation will not cease.
“I want to assure the families of those on MH370 that we have not forgotten the importance of maintaining the search for that aircraft. We are continuing that search uninterrupted,’’ Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters in Darwin Wednesday, the Australian Associated Press said.
“Our commitment to [MH370] is not in any way diminished by MH17,’’ Truss said. “Clearly, there have been things needed to be done urgently in relation to 17, but there is absolutely no interruption to the program for 370.’’
Truss added that “no resources” were being redirected from the search for MH370 to the MH17 effort. Although the head of the search operation in the Indian Ocean, Angus Houston, has been dispatched to Ukraine to oversee the recovery of the bodies of Australian passengers aboard MH17, investigators continue to conduct surveys to map the ocean floor off the western coast of Australia. So far, no trace of MH370 has been found.
The underwater search has been delayed until September, the Telegraph in the U.K. reported. Australian and Chinese vessels are surveying some 23,000 square miles of ocean, a search that is expected to take as long as a year. There has been no confirmation of any flight debris having been found.
Flight 370 lost contact with air traffic control on March 8, just an hour after takeoff. The Boeing 777 carried 227 passengers and 12 crew members, all of whom are presumed to have perished.
The multinational search for the missing plane quickly became the most expensive search in history. Investigators initially believed the plane had gone down in the Gulf of Thailand, but as more details of the plane’s fate unfolded, it appeared that the aircraft’s course had been diverted west across the Malay Peninsula and then south.