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Today, the search for MH370 has been further refined. The international investigation team continue working to narrow the search area, and shed further light on MH370's flight path.
We are, as always, grateful for the continuing co-operation of our partners in this difficult and intensive search.
Whilst search operations are on-going, we continue to focus our efforts on caring for the families. In Cabinet this morning, we discussed the importance of continuing to support the relatives of the passengers and crew.
1. Refined search area
On Monday, the Prime Minister announced that based on new data analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB had concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
On Tuesday, I confirmed that further study of this data would be undertaken to attempt to determine the final position of the aircraft. The Malaysian investigation team set up an international working group, comprising agencies with expertise in satellite communications and aircraft performance, to take this work forward.
The international working group included representatives from the UK, namely Inmarsat, AAIB, and Rolls Royce; from China, namely the CAAC and AAID; from the US, namely the NTSB, FAA, and Boeing; as well as the relevant Malaysian authorities.
The group has been working to refine the Inmarsat data, and to analyse it - together with other information, including radar data and aircraft performance assumptions - to narrow the search area.
Information which had already been examined by the investigation was re-examined in light of new evidence drawn from the Inmarsat data analysis.
In addition, international partners - who continue to process data in their home countries, as well as in the international working group - have further refined existing data. They have also come up with new technical information, for example on aircraft performance.
Yesterday, this process yielded new results, which indicated that MH370 flew at a higher speed than previously thought, which in turn means it used more fuel and could not travel as far. This information was passed to RCC Australia by the NTSB, to help further refine and narrow the search area.
The Australian authorities have indicated that they have shifted the search area approximately 1,100 kilometres to the north east. Because of ocean drift, this new search area could still be consistent with the potential objects identified by various satellite images over the past week.
This work is on-going, and we can expect further refinements. As the Australian authorities indicated this morning, this is standard practice in a search operation. It is a process of continually refining data which in turn further narrows the search area. With each step, we get closer to understanding MH370's flight path.
Searches must be conducted on the best information available at the time. In the search for MH370, we have consistently followed the evidence, and acted on credible leads. Our search and rescue efforts have been directed by verified and corroborated information. This latest refinement of the search area is no different.
2. Satellite images
Last night, Japanese authorities announced they had satellite images which showed a number of floating objects approximately 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth. Early this morning we received separate satellite imagery from the Thai authorities which also showed potential objects.
These new satellite images join those released by Australia, China, France, and Malaysia, all of which are with RCC Australia. The range of potential objects, and the difficulty in re-identifying them shows just how complex this investigation is. We remain grateful to all our partners for continuing to assist in the search operations.
3. Concluding remarks
The new search area, approximately 1,680 kilometres west of Perth, remains in the Australian area of responsibility.
Australia continues to lead the search efforts in this new area, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority gave a comprehensive operational update earlier today. As more information emerges, they will be issuing frequent operational updates, including on assets deployed.
I would like to echo their statements that the new search area, although more focused than before, remains considerable; and that the search conditions, although easier than before, remain challenging.
For the families of those on board, we pray that further processing of data, and further progress in the search itself, brings us closer to finding MH370.
These past couple of days have been especially difficult for everyone.
For Malaysia Airlines, it was very difficult to break the devastating news of the loss of the aircraft, especially to a large number of family members of passengers and crew onboard MH370, located in many places around the world, within a short time before the Prime Minister's public announcement.
However, the well-being and feelings of family members are and have always been close to our hearts and minds.
Ever since the disappearance of Flight MH370, Malaysia Airlines' focus has been to comfort and support the families of those involved and support the multi-national search effort. We will continue to do this, while we also continue to support the work of the investigating authorities.
Malaysia Airlines is extremely thankful for the support pouring in from governments around the world and of Malaysia, especially the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Transport. Both Prime Minister Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak and Acting Transport Minister Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and their staff have been at the forefront of every effort in locating MH370.
Ever since satellite findings first indicated that flight MH370 ended in the South Indian Ocean nearest to Australia, the Australian government too has given immense support to Malaysia Airlines, from coordinating the search for the aircraft to offering an exemption of visa application process for families of passengers and crew on board MH370. Malaysia Airlines will be making arrangements to take family members to Perth, should physical wreckage be found. We are extremely grateful for such support.
Whilst we understand that there will inevitably be speculation during this period, we do ask people to bear in mind the effect this has on the families of all those on board. Their anguish and distress increases with each passing day, with each fresh rumour, and with each false or misleading report.
Malaysia Airlines wishes to thank media publications that have been responsible in their reporting of MH370. We shall continue to cooperate in providing such information as we can but independent investigations are now underway and we do operate under strict constraints in this regard. In the meantime our top priority remains to provide any and all assistance to the families of the passengers and crew.
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