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Who will pay for Malaysia Airlines MH370 search?

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Malaysia to release preliminary report into disappearance

Tomorrow the government of Malaysia will release a preliminary report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. But as the first underwater search phase ends without result, the question of the cost of further searches has come to the fore.

Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transport minister, will visit Australia next week to discuss how the search operation should now proceed. This will focus on a deep-sea trawl of the southern Indian Ocean.

“We don’t know what the costs will be until we decide where to search, what assets are going to be used, and who will supply those assets,” the minister said.

The aircraft vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The search is already set to be the most expensive in aviation history, the news agency Reuters reports, and spending will rise as underwater drones scan a larger area of the seabed, which Australia says could take six to eight months to search.

The United States is promising to commit more assets, such as sophisticated sonar equipment, but also appears to want to pass on the costs. This means that China, Malaysia and Australia, the countries most affected by the tragedy, are likely to bear the financial and logistical burden of this long and costly search operation.

“We’re already at tens of millions. Is it worth hundreds of millions?” a senior US military official told Reuters. “I don’t know. That’s for them to decide.”

TravelMole / Reuters

[photo courtesy Bluefin Robotics]

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