(Transcript from World News Radio)
Australian authorities say they will decide in a few days whether to change or scale back the search for the missing Malaysian airliner in the Indian Ocean.
It comes as Malaysian officials prepare to issue death certificates for those on board Flight MH 370 and provide financial assistance to the families.
Santilla Chingaipe reports.
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It’s been more than six weeks since the Boeing 777 carrying 239 people vanished on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The Australian-led search effort is relying on the single US Navy submersible sonar scanning device to scour an uncharted seabed at depths of more than 4000 metres.
The Bluefin-21 device has so far detected nothing.
Australia’s ambassador to the United States Kim Beazley has told CNN the use of the US Navy device will have to be re-assessed soon.
“A decision will obviously be taken by the search coordinator. That would be done obviously in consultation with other parties that are involved in this. The air search might be adjusted, but when you say you’re going to reconsider all things, obviously that’s one of the things you’re going to consider. You may well also consider bringing in other underwater search equipment. All these sorts of things will be on the table if nothing is found in the next few days.”
Mr Beazley says every country contributing to the search would likely continue covering the costs of supporting its own planes, ships, personnel and equipment.
But he says Australia would consider bringing in private contractors.
“The question would be who would pay for private contractors if more private contractors were brought in. That would be a decision taken by the Australian government in an environment of great generosity. We have responsibility for this. There is an assumption on the Australian part about bearing the burden.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian authorities have met with distraught relatives of the missing flight to discuss the issuing of death certificates.
Senior government officials and representatives from the airline also talked to the families about providing financial assistance.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainudin also stressed that all passengers would be treated equally.
“When we talk about financial assistance, we have to be fair with everybody. The only discussion that we talk to currently is to the next of kin in Malaysia and to representative from China. So, we don’t only talk to Malaysian next-of-kin. We’ll talk to everybody.”
The amount of financial assistance has yet to be decided.
Mr Hamzah says the issuance of death certificates was also discussed, but says this has not been finalised.
“And just now, we’re looking at the date to announce. Once we want to make that kind of announcement, we would like to actually confirm certain issues, certain evidence or certain things that it is proper before we make that kind of announcement.”
Most of the 239 people aboard flight MH370 were from China.
There were six Australians.