Malaysia Airlines MH370: Australia, Malaysia work on deal over recovery of missing plane


MH370’s black box isn’t black, and time is running out to find it. Find out why.

Malaysia and Australia will sign a deal specifying who handles any wreckage from missing flight MH370 which may be recovered, including the crucial “black box” flight data recorders, Malaysian media reports.

Officials in Malaysia are drafting the agreement “to safeguard both nations from any legal pitfalls that may surface during that (recovery) phase,” the government-controlled New Straits Times says.

The Malaysian government hopes the deal can be finalised soon and endorsed in a cabinet meeting next week.

Australian officials are studying the memorandum of understanding (MoU), the newspaper says.

“The MoU spells out exactly who does what and the areas of responsibility,” civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman was quoted as saying.

Mr Azharuddin said Malaysia would lead most of the investigation, with Australia and others helping. Details of the MoU will not be made public, the report said.

Mr Azharuddin and other officials could not immediately be reached by news agency AFP.

The Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people, including six Australians, inexplicably veered off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 and is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, off the West Australian coast.

But a massive international search – led by Australian authorities – has failed to turn up any wreckage so far.

The Bluefin-21 unmanned submarine is being deployed in the search for missing flight but data from its dives have failed to find any trace of the plane.

The New Straits Times report said the Malaysia-Australia deal would address “specific areas” including who will handle the wreckage and the flight data recorders, known as black boxes.

Malaysia’s scandal-prone regime, which has a poor record on transparency, has pledged it will reveal the data recorders’ contents, if they are found.

Procedures for passenger remains to be governed by deal

The New Straits Times quoted a source with “intimate knowledge” of the deal saying it also specified where any passenger remains would be brought and who would carry out autopsies.

The crisis has brought intense international scrutiny on the Malaysian government, which has been accused by anguished Chinese families and other critics of hiding information and possibly trying to cover up its handling of the situation.

It is hoped any data contained within will indicate what caused the plane to divert.

A range of theories including hijacking, rogue pilot activity and aircraft malfunctions have been speculated.

Malaysia’s government has rejected such claims, saying it is passing on all it knows promptly. Two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese.

A survey by Malaysia’s leading independent polling firm released earlier this week found that only 26 per cent of Malaysians believed the government was being transparent about MH370.



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