Cambodian officials said Wednesday that their search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is still ongoing, although Malaysian authorities announced on Sunday that the plane had almost certainly crashed in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors.
Acting on a request from China, which had 150 passengers onboard the flight that disappeared on March 8, the Ministry of Defense finally joined the 26-nation search party last week. It deployed four Chinese-built Z-9 utility helicopters and two Royal Cambodian Navy vessels to scour the Gulf of Thailand for possible debris.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen opened the country’s door to Malaysia and China should they wish to search here. But with a possible “debris field” spotted by satellite Wednesday, the attention of international investigators is now focused 2,500 km off the west coast of Australia.
Nonetheless, Defense Minister Tea Banh said Wednesday that until the plane has been recovered, Cambodia will continue to search inside its borders, even if it takes months and costs a considerable amount of money.
“Now we are still helping in the search to find the plane because we have not yet heard whether the pieces seen floating in the Indian Ocean are really debris or not,” he said.
“Once we get news a piece of Flight MH370 has been found, we will stop looking. Until then, we will spend months helping to find it, even if we have to spend a lot of money.”
Cheng Hong Bo, who heads the political section of the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, agreed that nothing should be ruled out in the search for the missing flight until its fate is known.
“The international search for the plane has not been called off, and at this time we cannot rule anything out because we still do not know where the plane is,” he said.
Tran Van Thong, spokesman for the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, said Vietnam, which led the search in its initial phase in the Gulf of Thailand, was also continuing its search although the plane likely ended up far from Vietnamese waters.
“I haven’t heard anything about Cambodia’s search efforts, but Vietnam is also still searching because it is an act of goodwill and compassion, as there are people on the plane of many nationalities,” he said.