Australia agrees to lead search in Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

Australia is taking charge of the search in the Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane and has promised to commit more resources to finding the aircraft.

In a significant deepening of Australia's responsibility, Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament on Monday afternoon that Australia would co-ordinate operations in the vast search area to its west.

The Indian Ocean lies on one of two ''vectors'' that authorities have identified as paths the mystery flight might have taken.

If flight MH370 did indeed take a south-west path, then it would have most likely have gone into Australia's search and rescue zone, which stretches thousands of kilometres into the Indian Ocean, extending about halfway to southern Africa.

Mr Abbott said he spoke to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak early Monday afternoon and was asked to take over the Indian Ocean search.

''I agreed that we would do so. I offered the Malaysian Prime Minister additional maritime surveillance resources which he gratefully accepted.''

He said Defence Force chief General David Hurley had been in touch with his Malaysian counterpart to discuss how additional resources could be used. Presently Australia has two P-3 Orion surveillance planes contributing to the search.

''I wish to assure the House and ... the Australian people that Australia will do its duty in this matter,'' Mr Abbott said.

''We will do our duty to ensure that our search and rescue responsibilities are maintained and upheld and we will do our duty to the families of the 230 people on that aircraft who are still absolutely devastated by their absence and who are still profoundly, profoundly saddened by this as yet unfathomed mystery.''

This story Australia agrees to lead search in Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.