Saturday, March 22, 2014

MH370: Focus On Southern Indian Ocean Intensifies

KUALA LUMPUR: The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is increasingly focused on icy seas in a remote southern part of the Indian Ocean about 2500 km away from land.

While the hunt for the airliner carrying 239 people continues in the two diverging paths the plane may have taken, separate satellite sightings of what could be debris from the jet point to the southern part of the Indian Ocean, boosting hopes as the search entered its third week.

Yesterday, China said that its satellite had spotted an object about 22 metres long and 13 metres wide that could debris from the plane. The sighting was roughly 125 miles from where Australia reported spotting a similar object on Thursday.

The area of the search is some 2500 km southwest of Perth in Western Australia.

Nothing has been found yet and sea conditions in the area make the hunt difficult.

“Generally, conditions in the southern corridor are very challenging,” Malaysia’s Acting Transport minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein said yesterday.

“The ocean varies between 1,150 metres and 7,000 metres in depth. In the area where the possible objects were identified by the Australian authorities there are strong currents and rough seas,” he said.

Yesterday alone, the search was set to approximately 10,500 square nautical miles today in the Indian Ocean, he added.

But despite the focus on the seas southwest of Perth, the search in the other path the airliner may have taken is also continuing

“Until we are certain that we have located MH370, search and rescue operations will continue in both corridors,” Hishamuddin said yesterday.

“I can confirm that Malaysia is sending 2 aircraft to Kazakhstan,” he added.

MH370, a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, left Malaysia’s main airport KLIA around 12.40 am on March 8. The plane, bound for Beijing, travelled on the path charted for it for just under an hour. It’s last contact with air control was around 1.20 am the same day, when it was 120 nautical miles off Kota Bharu and flying over the South China Sea.

What happened next has been subject to intense debate and speculation but military radar detected the plane turning back, flying in the opposite direction of its intended flight path. There were no distress calls and the plane stopped communicating its position like it normally would.

Working on the aircraft’s last automated last communication, experts plotted one of two possible paths for the flight : a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian ocean.

The Malay Mail

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