World

Australia doesn't rule out future underwater search for MH370

MELBOURNE: Australia's transport minister yesterday defended the suspension of the undersea search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 after relatives of passengers slammed the decision, but added that it could resume if "credible new evidence" emerges.

Australia, Malaysia and China on Tuesday pulled the plug on the massive operation in the southern Indian Ocean almost three years since the plane vanished on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 on board.

Transport Minister Darren Chester said the investigation's high cost - about A$200 million (S$214 million) - was not a factor in the decision.

It came after the search of the remote 120,000 sq km zone was completed without success.

"I don't rule out a future underwater search by any stretch," Mr Chester said.

"We don't want to provide false hope to the families and friends.

"We need to have credible new evidence leading to a specific location before we would be reasonably considering future search efforts."

Mr Chester defended the choice of the search zone, which was questioned after analysis by Australian and international experts released last month concluded MH370 was not in that area and might be further north.

He said: "We need to understand the very limited amount of actual data our experts were dealing with... This search has been the edge of technological endeavour." - AFP

MH370Australiamalaysia