Australia is assuming the co-ordination of the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared over a week ago with 239 people on board.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday referred to flight MH370 as an “unfathomed mystery” when telling federal parliament he had recently spoken with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak about the search for the plane.
“In light of developments in the investigation he asked that Australia assume responsibility for coordinating that part of the search effort that is now focusing on the southern Indian Ocean,” Mr Abbott said in a statement.
Mr Razak also accepted an offer of additional Australian maritime surveillance resources.
Mr Abbott said Australia will work with assets from a number of other countries, including surveillance aircraft from New Zealand and the United States.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority will take the lead in coordinating the search in the southern Indian Ocean supported by the Australian Defence Force and other contributing agencies.
The two RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft which have been assisting the search off Malaysia are being re-tasked.
One Orion commenced searching the Indian Ocean to the north and west of the Cocos Islands on Sunday, the next sweep will take place on Monday night as an Orion transits from the Cocos Islands to RAAF Base Pearce near Perth.
The plane, which was carrying six Australians, disappeared on March 8 during a flight bound for Beijing.
There are now 25 countries searching for the missing airliner as authorities investigate the possibility of a hijacking.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor supported the government’s efforts to increase search assistance.