Two-thirds of underwater search done, no sign of MH370
April 21, 2014 00:00
Two-thirds of the planned underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been completed, with no signs so far of the jet, Australian officials said Monday.
As many as 10 military aircraft and 11 ships are taking part in the search for the aircraft, which was carrying 239 people when it vanished on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
No debris from the plane has been found despite an intense air and sea search and hopes centre on the underwater autonomous vehicle (UAV) Bluefin-21 finding wreckage on the Indian Ocean seabed.
"Bluefin-21 has searched approximately two thirds of the focused underwater search area to date," the Joint Agency Coordination Centre managing the search said in a statement.
"No contacts of interest have been found to date."
The torpedo-shaped sonar scanning device has so far made eight missions to the vast depths of the ocean with no result, despite exceeding it's operating limit of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet).
"Bluefin-21 AUV's ninth mission will commence later this morning," JACC said.
MH370 inexplicably diverted from its course towards Beijing and is thought to have crashed into the remote Indian Ocean.
Authorities believe acoustic signals picked up from the seabed far off the west coast of Australia by specialist US equipment -- known as a towed pinger locator -- are the best lead so far in solving the mystery.
With the batteries of the black box beacons now thought to have expired, experts are scouring the seabed in the vicinity of the transmissions to try and find their source.