Australia taps former defence chief to coordinate MH370 search support

by Reuters
Sunday, 30 March 2014 21:05 GMT

(Repeats story published on Sunday; no change to text)

PERTH, March 30 (Reuters) - Australia has appointed a former chief of its defence forces to coordinate the country's support for the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston will lead a new Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) based in Perth, from where the search for the missing plane was being carried out in the Indian Ocean.

The Australian government is coordinating the search for MH370, which has involved 60 aircraft and ships, and cooperation between more than two dozen countries.

The new JACC, headed by Houston, will aim to maintain clear lines of communication between all international partners as well as with the families of passengers, many of whom are expected to travel to Perth.

Malaysia holds overall responsibility for the search for MH370, which vanished from civilian radar screens on March 8, less than one hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

"The JACC will provide a single contact point for families to gain up-to-date information and travel assistance including visa services, accommodation advice, interpreter services and counselling," Abbott said in a statement.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said 10 aircraft from China, Australia, South Korea, Japan, the United States and Malaysia were searching on Sunday. Eight ships are also involved. (Reporting by Morag MacKinnon; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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