France today joined the multinational search and rescue team for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, bringing the number of countries involved in this unprecedented operation to 26, said the Ministry of Transport.
Three officials from France's Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) arrived in Kuala Lumpur to share their expertise based on their experience in the Air France crash of 2009.
There are three French nationals on board MH370.
On May 31, 2009, Air France flight 447, which departed Rio de Janeiro for Paris, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean the following day, killing all 216 passengers and 12 crew members.
The countries which have so far joined Malaysia in the search are Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The transport ministry said that the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Air Force will deploy their assets to the southern corridor of the new search area announced on Saturday, which extends from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the end of search operations at the South China Sea, saying they would now be focussed on two new corridors.
“A northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean,” he said.
Wisma Putra has sent diplomatic requests to all countries along the northern and southern corridors.
The requests include specific support and assistance including radar and satellite information, and details of any information required by Malaysia.
Malaysia is also asking for land, sea and aerial search operations, as well as search and rescue actions plans from the relevant countries.
Yesterday, Malaysia appealed for international help in the search for the plane along two arcs stretching from the shores of Caspian Sea to the far south of the Indian Ocean.
"From focusing mainly on shallow seas, we are now looking at large tracts of land, crossing 11 countries, as well as deep and remote oceans," said acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
The MH370 saga has baffled investigators and aviation experts since the plane vanished from civilian air traffic control screens less than an hour after departing Kuala Lumpur on March 8. – March 17, 2014.