SYDNEY- Australia will take responsibility for the “southern vector” of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with 25 countries now involved in a huge operation to locate the plane, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday.
The Malaysian government has revealed an investigation indicates the jet was deliberately diverted and flew for several hours after leaving its scheduled flight path — either north towards Central Asia, or towards the southern Indian Ocean.
Abbott, who earlier Monday told journalists he had no information that the flight may have come close to Australia, said he was responding to a request from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“He asked that Australia take responsibility for the search on the southern vector, which the Malaysian authorities now think was one possible flight path for this ill-fated aircraft,” Abbott told parliament.
“I agreed that we would do so. I offered the Malaysian prime minister additional maritime surveillance resources which he gratefully accepted.”
Abbott said the defense chiefs of Australia and Malaysia were discussing how to implement the arrangement.
“Australia will do its duty in this matter. It will do our duty to ensure that our search and rescue responsibilities are maintained and upheld,” he said.
“And we will do our duty to the families of the 230 people on that aircraft who are still absolutely devastated by their absence and who are still profoundly, profoundly saddened by this as yet unfathomed mystery.”
Asked earlier whether Australian agencies had detected the plane close to Australia, given its western coast borders the Indian Ocean, Abbott said: “I don’t have any information to that effect.