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It's not over: Australian defense minister

English.news.cn   2014-03-25 15:20:22

by Christian Edwards

PERTH, Australia, March 25 (Xinhua) -- As storm conditions indefinitely suspend the 'southern search' for flight MH370, the Australian military insists the truth of the final resting place of the Malaysian aircraft is far from determined, with Australia's defense minister telling reporters that the 'turning point' is yet to come.

Speaking to gathered media Minister David Johnston also sought to assure international media here that there has been a free-flow of information between the international partners involved in the hunt for evidence of stricken-flight MH370.

The West Australian Senator also insisted nothing had been held back by, or from, any government or military.

"Everything we can find, you've seen... You know all the information out there."

However the minister was far from drawing the same conclusions as his Malaysian counterparts who Monday night (AEDT), appeared to declare the search as a closed case.

In fact, if it was closure Malaysian authorities were seeking, then the Australian defense minister expressed an entirely different position.

"Lets be clear -- to this point in time we have not successfully recovered or identified any debris from the aircraft in question."

Minister Johnston told Xinhua at Pearce Airbase outside Perth that the fate of MH370 was still 'a mystery.'

"And until we recover and positively identify a piece of debris -- all is speculation," he told Xinhua.

The earlier declaration by Malaysian authorities that it was now -- somewhat illogically -- "assumed beyond reasonable doubt," that the Malaysian Airlines flight that left Kuala Lumpar for Beijing went down in the Southern Indian Ocean, has drawn strong criticism from both victims families and commentators.

Those words -- 'assumed beyond reasonable doubt' -- would appear to be ill-spoken and ill-timed.

Despite a further contribution from China and Korea, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and other international assets are now even further from being able to positively identify possible wreckage as the defense minister emphasized the highly-complex nature of the search and the deteriorating weather conditions.

The Vice Chief of the Defense Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin went even further.

"We are not searching for a needle in a haystack but still trying to define where the haystack is."

Johnston said the priority was to establish proof.

"The turning point for us will be when we pull some debris from the ocean and positively identify it."

The Malaysian declaration, clumsily conceived and sadly, even more poorly executed has come during a sharp deterioration in conditions with the RAAF suspending all sorties and even the Panamex Class Destroyer, HMAS Success has been re-delpoyed due to gale-force conditions in an ocean being notoriously fickle and dangerous.

The delay could not have come at a worse time for families, now struggling with the further pain of being told to begin grieving -- - when the terrible truth seems even more distant than just 24 hours ago.

Minister Johnston confirmed the pledge of assistance to families by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott -- but could provide no further details other than officials will waive visa fees for the families of the lost passengers and crew.

The Australian government has again offered condolences to the relatives and families of those on the flight and said a formal condolence motion would be moved in Parliament on Wednesday.

"It's highly likely... that in the coming days and weeks, many of the relatives of passengers on the ill-fated flight 370 will wish to come to Australia," Abbott said.

The defense minister again sought to retain focus on the search upon the high-seas.

Johnston said, "we will be very pleased to welcome them here to give them some closure.... however its probably one of the most remote parts of planet. We want to assist families for closure --- but lets talk about that when we know how many and when they're coming."

As so many painful questions continue to linger over the exact fate of Malaysia Airlines MH370, every further day without answers will mock both the grieving families and the Public Relations executive who sought to silence them with a text message.

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Editor: chengyang
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