ONGOING: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Missing, Presumed Crashed

1 May 2014

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Little has changed in the search for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight 370, which went missing nearly two months ago. Indeed, the only substantial changes involved the suspension of the aerial search earlier this week, with authorities admitting that, by now, “it is highly unlikely…that we will find any debris on the ocean surface.”

Going forward, the search will focus on scouring the sea floor with highly sophisticated unmanned robotic submarines.

This handout image taken on April 1, 2014 and received on April 10, 2014 from the US Navy shows the Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) being hoisted back aboard the Australia's Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test. - AFP

This handout image taken on April 1, 2014 and received on April 10, 2014 from the US Navy shows the Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) being hoisted back aboard the Australia’s Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test. – AFP

These are the same submarines, namely the US Navy’s Bluefin 21, that were dispatched to investigate the mysterious pings emanating from the seafloor three weeks ago. The underwater search in the neighborhood of the pings ultimately yielded nothing.

The new direction, which will include private contractors, appears to thus far be disregarding a claim from Australian geophysical survey company GeoResonance, which says it has found an anomaly on the ocean floor in the Bay of Bengal. The company says it found a number of metals and materials underwater that fit the profile of the missing Boeing 777 about 100 miles off the coast of Bangladesh. The company specializes in locating materials, everything from specific metals to nuclear weapons materials, underwater and underground.

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Search officials have been skeptical of the claim, noting that the location is very far outside the current search area. Authorities were led to the southern Indian Ocean, off the coast of Australia, based on satellite data that is believed to have tracked the jet to the area. Should the satellite data be errant, the jet had more than enough fuel to have made it to the location in question. GeoReconosance stopped short of saying they believe it is the jet, only that it should be checked out.

With no other leads and still no physical trace of the jet whatsoever, it could be years before the airplane is located, if ever. Authorities remain dedicated to continuing the search, however long it is.

The only modern day comparison would be the search for Air France 447, which took two years to locate even with a pretty solid idea of where it went down.

Breaking: New Lead? Possible MH370 Wreck Site Found 3,000 Miles Away

29 April 2014

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Officials will investigate possible aircraft wreckage spotted thousands of miles away from the area where searchers have been hunting for missing Flight MH370, Malaysia’s transport minister said Tuesday.

“We are aware of a report citing the detection of potential aircraft wreckage in the Bay of Bengal,” acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said. “China and Australia are also aware of this report. Malaysia is working with its international partners to assess the credibility of this information.”

On Monday, Australian exploration company GeoResonance said they believed it may have located the wreckage more than 3,000 miles from where authorities have been looking off the western coast of Australia.

“We identified chemical elements and materials that make up a Boeing 777 … these are aluminium, titanium, copper, steel alloys and other materials,” Pavel Kursa from GeoResonance told Australia’s 7News.

“The wreckage wasn’t there prior to the disappearance of MH370,” Kursa’s colleague David Pope added, according to 7News.

– Henry Austin

First published April 29th 2014, 6:46 pm

Australian officials say beach debris is not from Malaysian plane

24 April 2014

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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau does not believe material found on a beach in WA’s South West region is connected to the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

The material was found on a beach 10 kilometres east of Augusta yesterday by a member of the public and handed to police.

Photos of the items were sent to the ATSB for examination.

ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan has ruled out any link with MH370.

“We’ve carefully examined detailed photographs that were taken for us by the police, and we’re satisfied that it’s not a lead in terms of the search for MH370,” he said.

“We want to pursue every possible lead that will help us find MH370 but sadly this is one that is not going to help in that search.”

However, Mr Dolan is encouraging people to continue coming forward with any other discoveries.

“We do encourage everyone who thinks they have viable leads in relation to the aircraft to contact the ATSB,” he said.

“We want to pursue everything. There are going to be a range of cases where something that looks positive turns out not to be on closer examination.”

The ATSB had given the photographs to the Malaysian investigation team.

The search continues for wreckage from the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 carrying 239 people, including six Australians.

Up to 11 military aircraft and 11 ships are likely to take part in today’s operations. The search area is about 50,000 square kilometres and situated about 1,500 kilometres north-west of Perth.

Planes were grounded on Tuesday and Wednesday due to bad weather generated by ex-Tropical Cyclone Jack.

Acoustic detections remain most promising lead: ATSB

Mr Dolan says the most positive lead continues to be the four detections of acoustic signals consistent with a black box pinger.

However, the pinger has stopped emitting signals.

“We are continuing our underwater search of the area; at this stage it remains our most possible lead,” he said, referring to the use of the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21.

“So we are doing a sonar search of the area to see if there is any wreckage on the sea floor.

“We haven’t been successful in detecting anything to this point but there is some time to go there.

“If the current phase is not successful … then the next phase will be a much more lengthy one.”

Australia has vowed to keep searching for the missing plane as the Bluefin-21 completes its 12th underwater mission.

The underwater vehicle has now searched more than 90 per cent of the identified area. It has been looking within a 10-kilometre radius of the second acoustic signal detected on April 8.

Search officials say it may soon be redeployed to other areas yet to be determined.

Mr Dolan says authorities remain confident they are searching in the right area.

“All the analysis available to us… is that somewhere in the Indian Ocean, on that arc that was calculated from satellite connections, is the most likely place to find the aircraft,” he said.

“We are satisfied it went south in the Indian Ocean.”

 

BREAKING NEWS; DEBRIS FOUND ON AUSTRALIAN SOUTH WEST COAST

23 April 2014

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Authorities are examining material that has washed ashore south of Perth to identify if it is related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Police from Busselton secured the material that was found 10 kilometres east of Augusta in the South West of Western Australia.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is examining photographs of the material to see if it is related to the search for the aircraft.

The ATSB has also provided the photographs to the Malaysian investigation team.

The ABC has been told the material is metallic and about 2.5 metres long.

WA Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis, a former submarine navigator, said it was possible the items found could have come from the missing flight.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if sooner or later … if there was debris floating, it would end up on the West Australian coast,” he told ABC local radio in Perth.

“Weather systems in the southern hemisphere predominantly move in a clockwise direction, and this time of the year the Leeuwin Current is pretty much at its strongest.

“Anything in that area over 50 days travelling at two knots, say four kilometres an hour, sooner or later is likely to have been caught up in it [the current].”

Mr Francis stressed that he did not have any information to suggest the debris was from the missing flight.

“I don’t want to pre-empt anything that it may or may not have been,” he said. “We’re just guessing at the moment but I wouldn’t be surprised, that’s all.”

Bad weather grounds search aircraft

Planes were earlier grounded for a second day as poor weather hampers search efforts for flight MH370.

The aerial search for the missing flight was suspended on Tuesday when bad weather caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Jack moved into the area.

Three aircraft which had been sent to the search area on Wednesday were recalled when heavy seas and poor visibility increased.

“Current weather conditions are resulting in heavy seas and poor visibility … making air search activities ineffective and potentially hazardous,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement.

The 12 ships involved in today’s search will continue the hunt for wreckage from the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 carrying 239 people, including six Australians.

Australia has vowed to keep searching for the missing plane as autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 nears the end of its first full mission.

Search officials have said that once the Bluefin-21’s current mission, 2,000 kilometres north-west of Perth, is finished, they will redeploy the submarine to other areas yet to be determined.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the search strategy may change if seabed scans from the drone fail to turn up any signs of debris.

“We may well re-think the search but we will not rest until we have done everything we can to solve this mystery,” he said.

“The only way we can get to the bottom of this is to keep searching the probable impact zone until we find something or until we have searched it as thoroughly as human ingenuity allows at this time.”

Map: Materials found near Augusta

Topics: air-and-spaceaccidentsaugusta-6290waperth-6000australiamalaysiaasia

Why are Americans obsessed with missing plane?

21 April 2014

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PERTH, Australia (AP) — From the disappearances of aviator Amelia Earhart to labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, there’s just something about a good mystery that Americans find too tantalizing to resist. Perhaps that’s why the saga of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has continued to rivet the country long after people elsewhere have moved on.

This handout image taken on April 1, 2014 and received on April 10, 2014 from the US Navy shows the Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) being hoisted back aboard the Australia's Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test. - AFP

This handout image taken on April 1, 2014 and received on April 10, 2014 from the US Navy shows the Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) being hoisted back aboard the Australia’s Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test. – AFP

From the beginning, the story has bubbled with enough drama to rival a good Hollywood whodunit. And even though it unfolded on the other side of the world with only three Americans on board, many were sucked in anyway.

“This story has many ingredients of compelling drama, particularly early on: lives at stake, mystery unsolved, a race against time, human emotion,” Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, said in an email.

Many found it impossible to believe that a modern Boeing 777 carrying 239 people could just vanish without a trace in an age where an iPhone can be tracked just about anywhere.

And so they tuned in to watch the latest developments. And when there were no new developments, they stayed glued to their smartphones because the suspense of not knowing – or possibly missing something new – somehow spiked when nothing was going on. From oil slicks to pings from dying black boxes, each new lead provided a salacious morsel that drove viewers to wonder: Will this be it?

“I find myself drawn into watching or reading about it because it has taken on seemingly mythic worldwide importance,” Paul Mones, an attorney from Portland, Oregon wrote in an email. “In this modern world we simply refuse to accept that something so concrete can get so out of our physical reach and understanding. … People just refuse to concede that the cause of the disaster will likely forever remain unknown.”

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After six weeks of breathless reporting, not one shred of hard evidence has been found from the jetliner. An unmanned underwater submarine is now using sonar to comb the ocean floor at a depth exceeding 4 1/2 kilometers (2.8 miles) off the west coast of Australia. It is desperately trying to spot something – anything – that resembles wreckage in an area where signals believed to be coming from the plane’s dying black boxes were heard.

According to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center conducted April 3-6, the missing plane remained the top news story in the U.S., with 33 percent of people saying they followed it over a deadly shooting at Fort Hood Army base, developments related to Ukraine and President Obama’s health care overhaul. That’s down from 39 percent in the previous March questionnaire, when nearly half of those asked said they thought the hunt for MH370 was being given the right amount of coverage.

The search for missing Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 has been reliant on satellite images, but the technology is being pushed to its limits.

The search for missing Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 has been reliant on satellite images, but the technology is being pushed to its limits.

CNN covered the drama ad nauseam for weeks, once breaking into one of its programs to report that objects recovered from the sea could be trash – which is exactly what it proved to be. They featured tons of go-to footage from a flight simulator and a nonstop spool of speculation from talking heads. Everyone had a theory, with some sounding more like a Twilight Zone rerun than a newscast: Could a black hole or even something supernatural be behind the aircraft’s March 8 disappearance?

Last week, Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., begged CNN to scale it back.

“Enough, already,” he wrote. “Give us a break from the missing plane. … Put your hands up and step away from the story.”

But even though its coverage was mocked by “The Daily Show” and spoofed by “Saturday Night Live,” Americans kept watching, and the 24-hour news network’s ratings kept soaring. CNN, which declined to comment for this story, reported itself that the all-important 25- to 54-year-old viewer demographic more than doubled after its plane reporting began.

But why did interest remain so high in the U.S. when the story lost steam elsewhere? It dropped from most Australian front pages and web sites weeks ago, despite the search being coordinated off its western coast. CNN International tapered its coverage when other big news broke, such as the crisis in Ukraine and the Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa, even though the missing jetliner was actually an overseas story. Even in China, where two-thirds of the passengers were from, reports never ran nonstop on TV and the clamor on social media also died down.

Still, Americans yearned for more.

Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Sergeant Patrick Manser looks out of an observation window aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defense Force Photo: Reuters

Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Sergeant Patrick Manser looks out of an observation window aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defense Force Photo: Reuters

A month and a half into the massive search that has involved scores of countries scouring thousands upon thousands of ocean miles, the plane was still among the top three stories Sunday on Google news. The only new development was that a robotic submarine was expected to finish its sweep of the seabed in a week.

Part of the obsession may also revolve around the country’s gotta-know-now mentality and its social media addiction that gets fed 24/7 by the latest breaking news, raw footage or photos going viral on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Since the plane disappeared, it has consistently been one of the top five most-read stories on The Associated Press’ mobile app.

A combination of popular TV shows and a history peppered with real-life detective dramas, from who shot President John F. Kennedy to the identity of Watergate source “Deep Throat,” may have been factors that tempted Americans to latch onto it.

“It’s almost like all the seasons of `Lost’ was the promotional period for this story,” said Robert Thompson, a pop culture expert at Syracuse University.

“We have always kind of put a lot of our popular national narrative into these mysteries and conspiracies and all of the rest of it,” he added. “And this is a pretty powerful one.”

Current search for MH370 could take a week

20 April 2014

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The West Australian reports – The current search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane on the Indian Ocean seabed could be completed within a week, Australian officials say.

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The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), named Bluefin-21, will again explore the seabed of the remote 10km circle of ocean off the West Australian coast on Sunday.

It is here where a signal, believed to be from one of flight 370’s black box recorders, was detected on April 8.

The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) says it is happy with how the underwater search is progressing, although plans have changed due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

If the weather continues to allow them to launch and recover the AUV, the centre says the search of the 10km radius should be completed in five to seven days.

Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Sergeant Patrick Manser looks out of an observation window aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defense Force Photo: Reuters

Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Sergeant Patrick Manser looks out of an observation window aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defense Force Photo: Reuters

The news comes after Malaysia’s transport minister said the effort to find the plane was at a “very critical juncture”.

“So I appeal for everybody around the world to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on,” Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Saturday.

It has been more than six weeks since the Boeing 777 vanished on March 8, carrying 239 people.

The Australian-led search effort is relying on the single US Navy submersible sonar scanning device to scour an uncharted seabed at depths of around 4,500 metres or more.

Bluefin-21 has made six deep-sea scanning runs but has detected nothing.

This handout image taken on April 1, 2014 and received on April 10, 2014 from the US Navy shows the Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) being hoisted back aboard the Australia's Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test. - AFP

This handout image taken on April 1, 2014 and received on April 10, 2014 from the US Navy shows the Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) being hoisted back aboard the Australia’s Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test. – AFP

“We have pursued every possible lead presented to us at this stage, and with every passing day the search has become more difficult,” Hishammuddin, who is heading up the Malaysian government’s response to MH370, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

He said some adjustments to the search may be made, including “widening the scope of the search and utilising other assets that could be relevant in the search operation”.

He stressed, however, that the search would not be abandoned.

Up to 11 military aircraft and 12 ships will take part in Sunday’s search over two areas totalling 48,507 square kilometres.

Early on Sunday morning, Bluefin-21 completed its seventh mission and descended for an eighth, after covering about 50 per cent of the underwater search zone.

No contacts of interest have been found to date, JACC said in a statement.

The forecast for the day is scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.

MH370 search “at critical juncture” as it enters 44th day

20 April 2014

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MH370 search “at critical juncture” as it enters 44th day
The Phoenix International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Artemis is craned over the side of Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean in his picture released by the Australian Defence Force on April 20, 2014. Photo: Reuters
M’sian government asks for prayers for success, as sea bed scans are due to end soon
PERTH — The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 entered its 44th day today (April 19) as Australian search officials said a crucial series of sonar scans of the Indian Ocean floor could be completed within a week.

The air, surface and underwater search is now focused on footage taken by a US Navy deep sea drone, which has narrowed its target range to a tight 10km circle of sea floor.

The Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) has spent the past week scouring the remote and largely unmapped stretch of ocean floor some 2,000 km northwest of the Australian city of Perth for signs of the plane, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.

The remote controlled submarine is now in its eighth deep sea mission with no sign of wreckage so far. The drone has searched about half its targeted area, the authorities said today.

The Malaysian government has said the search is at a “very critical juncture” and asked for prayers for its success. Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has also said the government may consider using more AUVs in the search.

After almost two months without a sign of wreckage, the current underwater search is centered on an area where one of four acoustic signals believed to be from the plane’s black box recorders was detected on April 8.

Weeks of daily sorties have failed to turn up any trace of the plane, even after narrowing the search to an arc in the southern Indian Ocean, making this the most expensive such operation in aviation history.

Hopes for further black box signals are fast diminishing, since the black box batteries are now two weeks past their 30-day expected life span, search officials have said.

But while the Bluefin-21’s target range has narrowed, the air and surface search continues unabated, with daily sorties a week after Australian search coordinator retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the air and surface component of the search would end within three days.

Up to 11 military aircraft and 12 ships will help with the search today, covering a total of roughly 48,507 square km across two areas, the Perth-based Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement.

MH370 search to be most costly ever

18 April 2014

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AFP reports – Sydney – The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is set to be the most expensive in aviation history, analysts say, as efforts to find the aircraft deep under the Indian Ocean show no signs of slowing.

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The Boeing 777 vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, after veering dramatically off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed in the sea off Australia.

Australia, which is leading the search in a remote patch of water described as “unknown to man”, has not put a figure on spending, but Malaysia has warned that costs will be “huge”.

Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Sergeant Patrick Manser looks out of an observation window aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defense Force Photo: Reuters

Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Sergeant Patrick Manser looks out of an observation window aboard a RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defense Force Photo: Reuters

“When we look at salvaging (wreckage) at a depth of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles), no military out there has the capacity to do it,” Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Thursday.

“We have to look at contractors, and the cost of that will be huge.”

Ravikumar Madavaram, an aviation expert at Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, said Malaysia, Australia and China, which had the most nationals on-board the flight, were the biggest spenders and estimated the total cost up to now at about US$100 million (72 million euros).

“It’s difficult to say how much is the cost of this operation … but, yes, this is definitely the biggest operation ever (in aviation history).

“In terms of costs this would be the highest,” he told AFP.

In the first month of the search Ä in which the South China Sea and Malacca Strait were also scoured by the US, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam Ä the Pentagon said the United States military had committed US$7.3 million to efforts to find the plane.

Meanwhile the Indian Ocean search, in which assets have also been deployed by Australia, Britain, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand, has failed to find anything conclusive.

Hopes rest on a torpedo-shaped US Navy submersible, which is searching the ocean floor at depths of more than 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) in the vicinity of where four signals believed to have come from black box recorders were detected.

David Gleave, an aviation safety researcher at Britain’s Loughborough University, said the costs “will be of the order of a hundred million dollars by the time we’re finished, if we have found it (the plane) now”.

But he said the longer it took to find any wreckage, the more costs would mount because scanning the vast ocean floor “will take a lot of money because you can only search about 50 square kilometres (19 square miles) a day”.

Salvaging anything would also depend on how deep the ocean is at the crash point and how dispersed the wreckage, with weather and politics also complicating factors, he said.

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The fate of MH370 has drawn parallels with the hunt for Air France Flight 447 which plunged into the Atlantic in 2009.

The two-year operation to recover its black box, which involved assets from France, Brazil and the US, has been estimated to have cost 80-100 million euros, according to figures cited by France’s Investigation and Analysis Bureau (BEA).

Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre says its main focus is still on finding flight MH370.

“It is one of the most difficult searches ever undertaken and could take some time,” JACC said in a statement to AFP.

“The cost of the search is significant. The exact figure has not yet been calculated.

“The cost is being shared by our international partners who have contributed their people and military and civilian assets to help with the search.”

As the search continues, all international partners are meeting their own costs. But governments and militaries will need to consider the broader cost implications of the search down the track, said Kym Bergmann, editor of Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

“I don’t think that the Australians would be getting any change at all out of Aus$1 million day,” he told AFP.

The Boeing 777

The Boeing 777

Bergman said it would likely be the most expensive aviation search given how long it had already dragged on.

“It must be starting to worry military planners,” he said, adding that any decision to scale back would cause heartache to the families involved.

Malaysia-based Madavaram agreed, saying at present it was still “politically insensitive” to cut spending.

“I think they will continue one or two months irrespective of the costs,” he said.

“But then if nothing is found, it will become a wild goose chase, and people will start questioning it.”

Oil slick not linked to MH370: authorities

18 April 2014

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An oil slick in the southern Indian Ocean is not linked to a missing Malaysian Airlines jet, Australia’s search agency says.

The slick was found in a focus search area on Sunday, further raising hopes that the global effort to find flight MH370 might have narrowed in on the patch of ocean where the airliner went down on March 8, carrying 239 passengers and crew.

But late on Thursday, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) ruled out any connection.

“Preliminary analysis of the sample collected … has confirmed that it is not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fluid.”

Despite the news the search will continue throughout the Easter long weekend, with both aerial and underwater sweeps planned.

A Bluefin-21 underwater drone is scanning the Indian Ocean seabed, more than 2000 kilometres northwest of Perth, but is yet to find the wreckage.

The JACC also disputed US Navy claims from earlier in the week that the drone would take up to two months to sweep the search area.

In its latest statement, it revealed that the underwater search area has been “significantly narrowed” in recent days.

The drone has also been cleared to reach depths of more than 4.5km, with a small but acceptable level of risk.

“This expansion of the operating parameters allows the Bluefin-21 to search the sea floor within the predicted limits of the current search area.”

But there has been criticism of the Bluefin-21 system, which has to surface to download information for analysis.

Richard Gillespie, who led the search for aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart’s plane in the Pacific Ocean has told CNN that the Bluefin-21 “didn’t work for us”.

The US Navy has offered Australia the use of its Orion-towed search system, which can send back real-time data.

Saturday will mark six weeks since the disappearance of flight MH370 whose passengers included New Zealanders Paul Weeks and Ximin Wang.

 

Underwater drone resumes search for MH370

18 April 2014

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An underwater drone is continuing to scan the Indian Ocean seabed for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, despite failing to find any sign of the aircraft this week.

This handout image taken on April 1, 2014 and received on April 10, 2014 from the US Navy shows the Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) being hoisted back aboard the Australia's Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test. - AFP

This handout image taken on April 1, 2014 and received on April 10, 2014 from the US Navy shows the Bluefin 21, Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) being hoisted back aboard the Australia’s Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test. – AFP

The Bluefin-21 underwater drone has been deployed for a fifth time after completing another fruitless mission overnight.

Friday’s search is expected to cover 51,870sq km and will involve up to 11 military aircraft and 12 ships.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said a rethink on the search will be needed if the Bluefin-21, which has so far searched about 110sq km since its first deployment on Monday, failed to find the wreckage of flight MH370.

The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) has said the search will continue for the next three days, but has not elaborated on activities after that.

The search is focusing on seabed more than 2000km northwest of Perth, in the same area where an oil slick was found last Sunday.

But JAAC’s preliminary analysis of the slick showed it was not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fluid.

Mr Abbott says he’s confident the search is focused on the right place, based on acoustic signals detected by a pinger locator towed by the Australian naval vessel Ocean Shield on April 5 and 8.

This Saturday will mark six weeks since flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared.