KUALA LUMPUR: US President Barack Obama said Wednesday that Washington has placed the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) jetliner a ‘top priority’.
The AFP news agency quoted Obama as saying this in his first on camera comments on the missing flight MH370 in an interview with Dallas television station KDFW at the White House.
“I want them to be assured that we consider this a top priority.
“We have put every resource that we have available at the disposal of the search process,” the president said.
According to the television station’s website, the exclusive White House interview by FOX4′s Clarice Tinsley was held Wednesday afternoon (local time).
The AFP reports also said that during the interview, the US leader also mentioned about the close cooperation between Washington and Kuala Lumpur over the missing jetliner.
“There has been close cooperation with the Malaysian government,” said Obama.
The United States has deployed, among others, a P8 Poseidon and a P-3 Orion surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft in the search operation.
According to AFP, Obama also said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and agencies or officials involved in aviation were at the disposal of the investigators.
The NTSB is an independent federal agency sanctioned by Congress to investigate every civil aviation accident in the U.S. and significant accidents in other modes of transportation-railroad, highway, marine and pipeline.
President Obama expressed his deep sympathy to the family members of the passengers and crew of the missing plane.
“First of all we want to send out our thoughts and prayers to all of the families that have been affected, but particularly our American families, who I can only imagine what they’re going through with all of the uncertainty that’s taken place,” Obama said in the interview.
There were three Americans in the flight and one of them is Philip Wood, 50, of Keller, Texas.
The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board, disappeared about an hour after leaving the KL International Airport in Sepang at 12.41 am on March 8. It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6.30 am the same day.
Malaysia has said that the search for the missing aircraft remains the government’s main priority focusing on diplomatic, technical and logistical challenges.
All 26 countries involved in the search and rescue (SAR) operation for the missing jetliner have verbally agreed to assist Malaysia, who had also sent formal written requests for their co-operation.
The search is now focused on two corridors, namely the northern corridor which stretches from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and the southern corridor which stretches from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.