Malaysian, Australian Prime Ministers visit search base for missing plane

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SYDNEY –  Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak joined his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, on Thursday to inspect the air force base in Perth.

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It is the area serving as the centre of a huge international operation to find missing flight MH370.

The search Coordinator, Angus Houston, welcomed Najib to Pearce Air Force base north of Perth, and said the search was “one of the most complex operations the world has ever seen’’.

Najib received a personal briefing on the operation under way in the southern Indian Ocean, where the plane was believed to have crashed.

Houston, a former air force chief, added that families of the 239 people on board the lost flight MH370 were welcome to visit the search headquarters in Perth.

The focus shifted on Thursday to the north of Wednesday’s search zone and aimed to cover 223,000 sq. km, 1,680 km west of Perth.

Eight planes and nine ships are involved, with a British nuclear submarine HMS Tireless joining the search along with UK search vessel HMS Echo.

Seeking to dampen expectations the search will be successful before the plane’s black box battery runs out in less than a week.

Houston said it takes a long time to find ships and planes at the bottom of the ocean.

He noted it took 60 years to find the huge cruiser HMAS Sydney sunk in World War Two, even after witnesses saw the ship exploding over the horizon.

Malaysian police on Wednesday ruled out any of the passengers as suspects in the disappearance of flight MH370 on March 8, but said the investigation into the cabin crew, in particular the pilots, was ongoing.

Malaysian police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the mystery of what happened on MH370 might never be solved. (dpa/NAN)


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