|Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss (C) speaks during a press conference at the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, May 5, 2014. China, Malaysia and Australia agreed to continue the search with new focus on underwater search of Malaysian Airline flight MH370 in the new phase. (Xinhua/Justin Qian)
CANBERRA, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Australia, Malaysia and China have agreed to intensify the underwater search for the missing Malaysian Airline flight MH370 at a trilateral ministerial meeting held in Canberra on Monday.
"Following the extensive surface search, ministers confirmed that the search will be a continuous effort with the operation entering a new phase that will now be focused on intensifying the search of the ocean floor over a larger area," the communique released after the meeting says.
Head of the Chinese delegation, Transport Minister Yang Chuantang, vowed at a post-meeting press conference that the search in the next phase will "not be interrupted, not be suspended, not be given up and not be slacked."
During the current transition period, dedicated vessels from Australia, Malaysia and China will continue maritime operations to maintain continuity and momentum, with the Bluefin-21 submersible continuing to be deployed, and an Australian aircraft on standby.
In the new phase of search, which is characterized by focused underwater search, governments will have to first conduct an oceanographic mapping of the sea floor, which is up till now little known to the human being.
"These activities will include analysis of all available data to refine the best search area; acquisition of bathymetric analysis capability to survey the search area; and acquisition of sub-surface search assets to scan the entire agreed search area," the communique says.
The document says that Australia and Malaysia are working on a more comprehensive agreement to clearly define the responsibilities of both sides, especially the financial responsibilities for any contracting of commercial search and recovery capabilities.
Australia and China will both send experts to participate in the International Investigation Team established by Malaysia to evaluate, investigate and determine the actual cause of the incident.
It is also made clear that the wreckage and flight recorders data (black box), once recovered, shall be managed in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization international convention.
In case of the final resting place of MH370 is settled or the identification of debris related to MH370, the three nations agreed to a proposed reception program for any planned visit for the next of kin to Perth.
Details for such visit include any visit will take place between two to four weeks after confirmation, Australia will provide support and information to the next of kin in terms of entry requirements to ensure their travel into and out of Australia are well taken care of, the Western Australian Government will take a lead role in organizing rituals and services according to their traditions and religions, and facilitate arrangements for basic needs of the next of kin during their stay in Australia.
Malaysia Airlines will be responsible for travel arrangements for the next of kin from Malaysia and all other countries. The airline will also retain broad responsibility for their support during the visit including flights, accommodation, transportation and family support.
China will actively facilitate and support matters relating to the Chinese next of kin.
The ministers announced that the Joint Agency Coordination Center will be relocated from Perth to Canberra to ensure ongoing close communication with high level representatives of Malaysia and China. However, the base of operations will remain in Perth.
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Malaysia Airlines: Representatives in touch with families of those onboard missing plane to initiate advance compensation payment
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