Hunt for MH370 en­ters ‘dif­fer­ent phase’

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By XU HAI­JING in Can­berra Xin­hua

The mys­tery sur­round­ing miss­ing Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH370 has deep­ened as the au­ton­o­mous un­der­wa­ter ve­hi­cle Bluefin-21 wraps up its search with­out find­ing any de­bris and the search area has been dis­counted as the fi­nal rest­ing place of the ill­fated air­craft.

The Joint Agency of Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­ter an­nounced on Thurs­day that Bluefin-21 had com­pleted its mis­sion af­ter cov­er­ing over 850 square kilo­me­ters of ocean floor in an area some 1,600 km off the coast of Western Aus­tralia.

The area was de­fined based on the four acous­tic sig­nals de­tected by the towed pinger lo­ca­tor de­ployed by the Aus­tralian De­fense Ves­sel Ocean Shield. The sig­nals, or pings, were be­lieved to be from a man-made de­vice and have all the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the trans­mis­sion from an emer­gency lo­ca­tor beacon.

Bluefin-21 started search­ing the sea floor in the area, look­ing for de­bris of the miss­ing air­craft or the “black boxes”, the air­craft’s data and voice recorders.

Af­ter search­ing for more than 40 days, Bluefin-21 com­pleted its last mis­sion on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. The data col­lected on that mis­sion has been an­a­lyzed and no signs of air­craft de­bris were found.

Hours af­ter the Joint Agency of Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­ter is­sued the state­ment, Aus­tralian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter War­ren Truss told the Aus­tralian Par­lia­ment that the search for MH370 will con­tinue in “a dif­fer­ent phase”. He said he still be­lieves the rest­ing place of the air­craft is in the South­ern In­dian Ocean.

The Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bureau said the search in the vicin­ity of the acous­tic de­tec­tions can now be con­sid­ered com­plete, and, in its pro­fes­sional judg­ment, the area can be dis­counted as the fi­nal rest­ing place of MH370.

The an­nounce­ment came hours af­ter the US navy’s deputy di­rec­tor of ocean en­gi­neer­ing Michael Dean told CNN that there was now broad agree­ment the sig­nals came from some other man-made source un­re­lated to the jet that dis­ap­peared on March 8 car­ry­ing 239 people.

“Our best the­ory at this point is that (the pings were) likely some sound pro­duced by the ship ... or within the elec­tron­ics of the towed pinger lo­ca­tor,” Dean said.

“Your fear any­time you put elec­tronic equip­ment in the wa­ter is that if any wa­ter gets in and grounds or shorts some­thing out, that you could start pro­duc­ing sound.”

The US navy has since is­sued a state­ment call­ing Dean’s com­ments “spec­u­la­tive and pre­ma­ture”.

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