India appreciates Malaysia's handling of MH370 tragedy, says envoy

Schoolgirls pray next to a sand art sculpture created by Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik to pay tribute to those on board the missing MAS flight MH370, on a beach in Puri, March 25, 2014. ― Reuters pic
Schoolgirls pray next to a sand art sculpture created by Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik to pay tribute to those on board the missing MAS flight MH370, on a beach in Puri, March 25, 2014. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — The Indian government has expressed deep appreciation to Malaysia over its handling of the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 tragedy, which it described as an “unprecedented task.”

India’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, T. S. Tirumurti said it was important to acknowledge the Malaysian government’s role in this unprecedented incident.

He was speaking at a farewell ceremony for the departure of India’s C-130J aircraft, which was one of two aircraft sent by the Indian government to join in the search for MH370, at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base here.

“We all understand the difficulties that the Malaysian government has undergone for the last two weeks or more. The Indian president has also written to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, conveying not only sympathy and condolences, but also appreciation to the Malaysian government for all efforts they have put in,” he said.

India has sent two long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, P8-I of the Indian Navy and C-130J of the Indian Air Force, to join the search for the lost MAS jetliner in the Indian Ocean. However, the C-130J’s task has been completed and today’s ceremony was held to send the aircraft and its crew back to India.

As for the P8-I, the journey has not ended as yet as it is now waiting for clearance from the Australian authorities to join the search for the jetliner off Perth, Australia.

Tirumurti also said that MAS had been very sensitive to the requirements of the relatives of the five Indian nationals on board MH370.

He said that together with officers at the Indian High Commission, he had been speaking with relatives of all five passengers on a daily basis.

“The relatives, whether they are in India or Malaysia, all of them have been looked after very well by Malaysia Airlines, for which we are very grateful,” he said, noting that the relatives had gone through a very difficult time for more than two weeks.

There are five Indian nationals on board the ill-fated Boeing 777-200ER which went off the radar, just one hour after it took off from the KL International Airport en route to Beijing on March 8.

According to Tirumurthi, the relatives of two of the Indian passengers were still in Malaysia while the rest had returned to India.

Meanwhile, Defence Adviser at the Indian High Commission, Col Praveen Chabbra said the Indian Air Force had received full support from the Malaysian coordination centre.

“The Indian and Malaysian air forces have been in direct coordination during the SAR (search and rescue) operations and (we) enjoy Malaysia’s utmost support and cooperation.

“I can say that with confidence that I enjoy the bond that exists between both armed forces, and utmost support from the Malaysian government as they perform professionally in coordinating the SAR mission,” he said.

Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 and disappeared from the radar, about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was scheduled to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day.

A multinational search has been mounted for the aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then over a large tract of land and sea west of Malaysia, including the Indian Ocean, when it was learned that the plane had veered off course and flown for seven hours with its communication system switched off.

Following an unprecedented type of analysis of satellite data, United Kingdom satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) concluded that Flight MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia.

On Monday night, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the flight path of MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean” where there are no sites for landing.

Meanwhile at a press conference today, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein announced that the search for MH370 had been further refined with the international investigation team working to narrow the search area, and shed further light on MH370’s flight path. — Bernama