Canberra, Aug 28 IANS | 3 months ago

Officials from Australia, China and Malaysia Thursday met in Canberra for updates on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and are "cautiously optimistic" that it will be found.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Chinese Vice Minister of Transport He Jianzhong and Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the passengers and families of MH370 had not left their thoughts, Xinhua reported.

"And while we cannot begin to comprehend the suffering of the next of kin, we reiterated our commitment to do all we can to assist them to find closure and understand the mystery of MH370," the ministers said in a joint statement.

Flight MH370 disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

No trace has been found despite an extensive search in the southern Indian Ocean.

At the meeting, the ministers told that the bathymetry work (ocean floor mapping) commenced in May using two vessels, the Zhu Kezhen and the Fugro Equator provided by China , and so far more than 87,000 sq.km of the sea floor in the 1.1 million sq.km wide search area have been surveyed.

In September, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will lead the deep-sea search utilising three vessels, including towed vehicles equipped with side scan sonar, synthetic aperture sonar, multi-beam echo sounders and video cameras in an attempt to locate the MH370.

The ministers said the effort to find evidence of the missing aircraft in the southern Indian Ocean had already become the biggest search operation in history, with the surface search covering over 4.5 million sq.km.

Many international organisations have been involved in the efforts including British satellite company Inmarsat, the US National Transportation Safety Board, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch and Boeing.

"The ministers reiterated the positive and productive nature of the ongoing tripartite collaboration and joint communications and will continue to maintain this strong collaborative approach in the future," the statement said.

"The families of the passengers and crew and the general public will continue to be updated on the development and outcome of the search operations."

(Posted on 28-08-2014)

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