Malaysia spent US$8.2m on food, fuel for MH370 search

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government has spent about RM27.6 million (US$8.2 million) searching for flight MH370 since the ill-fated aircraft went missing three months ago.

Acting Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Monday that the amount, which reflects what five of the country’s agencies spent on food and fuel, is not the final figure as the search is ongoing.

"How can we finalize the amount if we have yet to find the plane?” he said at Parliament. “Once it has been identified, then only we can finalize the amount."

Hishamuddin also thanked the countries involved in the search, indicating that none had demanded any payment.

The minister said the search had entered the "transition phase" with many private companies expressing interest in helping look for the Malaysia Airlines plane.

A delegation, including Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, will head to Australia’s Canberra on Tuesday to discuss assets location and costs in the new phase.

"It will not be fair to other countries such as Australia to continue to shoulder the costs of looking for the aircraft," Hishamuddin added Monday.

On March 8, the Beijing-bound MH370 plane went missing with 239 people from 14 different countries on board after losing radio contact with Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control.

No trace of the plane has been found yet despite the biggest search operation in aviation history.

Meanwhile, an emergency motion to debate the losses incurred last year by Malaysia’s national carrier - amounting to RM1.2 billion - was rejected Monday by the Lower House.

Deputy Speaker Ismail Mohamed said the motion did not fulfill the requirements for an emergency motion.

"The government is already taking action to determine the cause of the airline's loss and is looking for a solution," he added. “Since it is being investigated, it is not urgent.”

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