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Asia-pacific

Search for Malaysian jet to move '800 kilometres' southwest

© Afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-20

The ongoing search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will shift to an area 800 kilometres southwest of the previous search area following a new assessment of satellite data on the plane's likely flight path, media reports said Friday.

Citing US sources, the "West Australian" newspaper said the hunt would target an area 800 kilometres southwest from where the search was previously focused when the underwater probe resumes in August.

The new underwater search will focus on an area of ocean that lies 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) west of the city of Perth, Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief Martin Dolan said. When the search first shifted to the southern Indian Ocean on March 18, investigators targeted a location 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth.

Investigators reanalysed the initial satellite data to draw up the new location, which was previously the subject of an aerial search. Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said Friday that the revised search zone, based on an intensive study of satellite communications from the jet and other data, would be announced next week.

Scientists from British company Inmarsat told the BBC earlier this week that the search had yet to target the most likely crash site after investigators became distracted by "pings" thought at the time to have originated from the plane's black boxes.

An intensive undersea search for the plane in the area where the pings were detected failed to find any sign of the jet. The source of the noises remains unknown.

It was not clear from the West Australian report whether the new search area overlaps with what Inmarsat believes is the most likely crash site.

Final 'handshake'

The jet vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Malaysia on March 8 with 239 passengers on board.

Australian officials have said repeatedly that the revised search zone will be in the area of the seventh arc, or the final satellite "handshake" from the plane. This final communication is believed to have occured when the aircraft had run out of fuel and was in descent.

"Located along the seventh arc, that area is consistent with provisional analysis of satellite and other data that is being used to determine the future search area," the JACC said.

The Fugro Equator ship is already searching this zone, the centre said.

Australian officials announced earlier this week that a survey of the sea bed, mostly unmapped and crucial to the success of the underwater search, had resumed.

Two ships – China's Zhu Kezhen as well as the Fugro Equator – will survey an area up to 6,000 metres deep and covering up to 60,000 square kilometres before a contractor begins an intensive undersea probe looking for debris. 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-06-20

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