Australia leads southern search for missing plane
Australia will take control of the “southern vector” search for the missing Malaysian plane, its PM says, as a multinational effort continues.
Malaysian officials say the plane was intentionally diverted and could have flown on either a northern or southern arc from its last known position.
Australian PM Tony Abbott said he was responding to Malaysia’s request and would add more resources to the search.
His comments came amid scrutiny of the last communications from the plane.
Malaysian officials said on Sunday that the last words from the cockpit – “All right, good night” – came after the the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), which transmits key information about the plane to the ground, had been deliberately switched off.
On Saturday police searched the homes of Captain Zaharie Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.
Investigators are also looking at passengers, engineers and other ground staff who may have had contact with the aircraft before take-off.
The plane, which left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing at 00:40 local time (16:40 GMT) on 8 March, disappeared off air traffic controllers’ screens at about 01:20.
Investigators are trying to obtain more radar and satellite data from any of the countries that the plane may have passed over, with its 239 crew and passengers.
Mr Abbott told parliament on Monday that Malaysian Prime Minister Nazib Razak asked Australia to “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”.
“I agreed that we would do so. I offered the Malaysian prime minister additional maritime surveillance resources which he gratefully accepted.”
The southern search area covers the Indian Ocean.