REGULARLY UPDATED: Search for Malaysian flight resumes, China appoints special envoy to Kuala Lumpur

_73745367_iupk8flaCanberra (IANS) The search for any signs of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft in the Australian Search and Rescue Region is set to resume around 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authorities (AMSA) said.

Weather conditions improved in the area Wednesday and according to AMSA the search is split into three areas within the same proximity covering a cumulative 80,000 square km, Xinhua reported.

AMSA has tasked 12 aircrafts to search for possible objects in the area.

Five civil aircraft will be involved in search activities with AeroRescue Aviation Mission Coordinators on board. A total of 34 State Emergency Service volunteers from Western Australia will again be air observers on board the civil aircraft.

A total of seven military aircraft will join search operations: One Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft from China, a P3 Orion from Japan, a P3 Orion from South Korea, two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion, a US Navy P8 Poseidon, and a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion.

The Chinese aircraft will be the first aircraft to depart for the search area.

AMSA also said that HMAS Success, the second largest ship of the Royal Australian Navy, is now on its way back to the search area.

“On its arrival, HMAS Success will conduct a surface sweep of an area identified Monday afternoon by a RAAF P3 Orion as the location for several objects of interest,” it said.

In addition, China’s icebreaker Xue Long is expected to arrive in the search area later in the morning.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Tuesday the operation would move from searching to recovery and investigation after information supplied by the Malaysian government indicated the aircraft had come down in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors.

Six countries are now assisting in the search and recovery operation including Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the US.


MEANWHILE, China has appointed a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur to press for details about the fate of the missing Malaysian airliner, as family members of the passengers accuse the Malaysian government of lying about the flight’s final hours, media reports said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui would act as the special envoy and head for Kuala Lumpur as soon as possible to “learn about the situation” and “ask the Malaysian side to properly handle related issues”, South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.

The crisis over Malaysia Airlines flight 370 topped the agenda of a central government meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday in Beijing.

Two Chinese expert teams are already in Kuala Lumpur.

The General Office of the State Council has promised to continue to provide passengers’ family members with medical treatment, psychological counseling and legal assistance, according to China Daily.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday that based on analysis of satellite data the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean and there were no survivors.

However another deputy foreign minister, Xie Hangsheng, told Malaysia’s ambassador to Beijing, Iskandar Sarudin, that China wanted the precise data that prompted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to announce that the flight had “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean.

“We demand the Malaysian side make clear the specific basis on which they come to this judgment,” Xie said.

After 18 days of anguish, hundreds of Chinese, including relatives of those on board, marched to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing Tuesday. They carried placards and chanted “liar”, and “You owe us an explanation”. Tempers flared as protesters pelted the embassy lawn with plastic bottles and scuffled with police, who took no steps to end the demonstration.

Malaysia Airlines chairman Mohammed Nor Mohammed, stuck to his guns, telling a press conference that although no wreckage had been found, there was no doubt the flight was lost.

The ill-fated flight MH370 disappeared March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, including 154 Chinese nationals.