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Aussie PM: Najib's right on where plane 'ended'

Published
Modified 31 Mar 2014, 1:22 pm

MH370 Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has risen to Malaysian counterpart Najib Abdul Razak's defence over the conclusion that Malaysia Airlines Fight MH370 "ended" in the Indian Ocean.

Abbott's word of encouragement for Najib comes in the wake of fury from Chinese families who claimed the announcement had been premature, and who have demanded an apology from Putrajaya.

The accumulation of evidence is that the aircraft is lost somewhere in the south of the Indian Ocean.

"That's the absolutely overwhelming wave of evidence and I think that Prime Minister Najib Razak was perfectly entitled to come to that conclusion," Abbott, who was in Perth for an update on the search operation, was quoted as saying by UK daily The Telegraph .

"And I think once that conclusion had been arrived at, it was his duty to make that conclusion public."

Abbott said there is no time limit to the search and it is owed to grieving families that the operation continues.

"The intensity of our search and the magnitude of operations is increasing, not decreasing," he added.

Ten aircraft and 10 ships are now searching an area some 1,850km west of Perth where Flight MH370 is believed to have “gone down”.

Hours after being briefed by UK-based satellite company Inmarsat on March 24, Najib had solemnly announced : "This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites.

"It is therefore, with deep sadness and regret I must inform you that according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean".

The next day, MAS chairperson Md Nor Md Yusof echoed the conclusion , saying: "From the evidence given to us, and by rational deduction, we could only arrive at that conclusion - for MAS to conclude it has lost its plane and, by extension, the people in the plane."

The announcement unleashed a wave of anger in China as its government demanded specific information, while its celebrities attacked Malaysia and travel sites banned the sale of MAS tickets.

Yesterday, several more Chinese families arrived in Malaysia, demanding an apology from Putrajaya and insisting that they will only believe the conclusion when they see a piece of the aircraft.

The analysis is based on satellite pings received by by Inmarsat from Flight MH370 after all communications on board were mysteriously cut off.

By measuring the Doppler effect experienced by the pings, investigators found that their calculations correlated with the aircraft being in the Indian Ocean at its fuel limit, with no land mass nearby.

The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200ER aircraft went missing not long after taking off from KL International Airport in the early hours of March 8, with 12 crew members and 227 passengers on board.

Authorities later determined that the plane intentionally made a turn-back and altered its course shortly after cutting communications with tower controllers for unknown reasons, and continued flying on an unknown trajectory.

However, China has softened its criticism. Prominent government- linked newspaper  China Daily today said it was understandable that not all sensitive information could be made public.

"Although the Malaysian government's handling of the crisis has been quite clumsy, we need to understand that this is perhaps the most bizarre incident in Asia civil aviation history," the editorial on Monday read.

"Public opinion should not blame the Malaysian authorities

for deliberately covering up information in the absence of hard

evidence."

Dozens of items have been spotted since Australian authorities moved the search 1,100 km (685 miles) north after new analysis of radar and satellite data, but none has been linked to Flight MH370.

Several orange items recovered on Sunday turned out to be

fishing equipment, a spokesman from the Australian Maritime

Safety Authority (Amsa) said.

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