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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Australian aircraft to search Indian Ocean

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Two RAAF aircraft helping search for the missing Malaysian airliner will shift their focus to the Indian Ocean, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

Mr Abbott says Australia is also prepared to provide any more assistance the Malaysian government might seek.

But he says reports that the aircraft may have been hijacked did not justify any change to security measures in Australia.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur on a flight to Beijing on March 8 and vanished from radar screens.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Saturday that satellite and radar data clearly indicated the plane’s automated communications had been disabled and the plane then turned away from its intended path and flew over the Indian Ocean.

The flight path diversion raised speculation of a hijack.

Mr Abbott said there was strong security at Australian airports.

‘‘I am certainly very satisfied with the security arrangements we currently have,’’ he said.

Mr Abbott said he spoke to Mr Razak last week and offered two RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft to assist in the search.

‘‘They will be appropriately retasked given the changing search patterns,’’ he said.

Mr Abbott said Malaysia had not asked for more assistance.‘‘We want to be a good friend to Malaysia,’’ he said.

‘‘If the Malaysians want additional help, we certainly stand ready to supply it,’’ he said.

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