Senior government ministers from Australia, China and Malaysia met in Canberra on Thursday for updates on the search for missing flight MH370 and said they "remain cautiously optimistic that the missing aircraft will be found."
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Chinese Vice Minister of Transport He Jianzhong and Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the passengers and families of MH370 had not left their thoughts.
"And while they cannot begin to comprehend the suffering of the next of kin, reiterated their commitment to do all they could to assist them to find closure and understand the mystery of MH370," the ministers said in a joint statement.
Flight MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace has been found despite an extensive search in the southern Indian Ocean.
At the meeting on Thursday, the ministers were told that bathymetry work (ocean floor mapping) commenced in May using two vessels, the Zhu Kezhen provided by China and the Fugro Equator, and so far more than 87,000 square kilometers of the sea floor in the 1.1 million square kilometer-wide search area have been surveyed.
In September, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will lead the deep-sea search utilizing three vessels, including towed vehicles equipped with side scan sonar, synthetic aperture sonar, multi-beam echo sounders and video cameras in an attempt to identify MH370.
The ministers said the effort to find evidence of the missing aircraft in the southern Indian Ocean had already become the biggest search operation in history, with the surface search covering over 4.5 million square kilometers.
Many international organizations have been involved in the efforts including satellite company Inmarsat, the US National Transportation Safety Board, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch and Boeing.
"The ministers reiterated the positive and productive nature of the ongoing tripartite collaboration and joint communications and will continue to maintain this strong collaborative approach in the future," the statement said.
"The families of the passengers and crew and the general public will continue to be updated on the development and outcome of the search operations."
SYDNEY, August 28 (Xinhua)