Ex­perts: Crash site could be north of cur­rent search area

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By REUTERS in Syd­ney

In­ves­ti­ga­tors search­ing for Malaysia Air­lines flight MH370 have rec­om­mended ex­tend­ing the search by 25,000 square kilo­me­ters, to an area fur­ther north in the In­dian Ocean, af­ter con­ced­ing for the first time they were prob­a­bly look­ing in the wrong place.

Flight MH370 dis­ap­peared in March 2014 with 239 pas­sen­gers and crew on board, most of them Chi­nese, en route to Bei­jing from the Malaysian cap­i­tal, Kuala Lumpur. Its where­abouts have be­come one of the world’s great­est avi­a­tion mys­ter­ies.

The search co­or­di­na­tor, the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bureau, is­sued a re­port ear­lier on Tues­day in which it said new ev­i­dence from ocean drift mod­el­ing and anal­y­sis of satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the air­craft and washed-up de­bris helped de­ter­mine the new area.

But Aus­tralia, one of three search coun­tries, re­jected the rec­om­men­da­tion cit­ing a lack of “cred­i­ble ev­i­dence” to ex­tend the search, leav­ing it un­clear whether Chi­nese and Malaysian search teams would fi­nance a pro­longed hunt.

“The re­port does not give a spe­cific lo­ca­tion for the miss­ing air­craft and so we need cred­i­ble ev­i­dence that iden­ti­fies the spe­cific lo­ca­tion of the air­craft to ex­tend the search,” a spokes­woman for Aus­tralia’s In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port Min­is­ter Darren Ch­ester said.

Malaysian Trans­port Min­is­ter Liow Tiong Lai said it re­mained to be seen how the in­ves­ti­ga­tors’ re­port could help iden­tify the spe­cific lo­ca­tion of the air­craft. He did not com­ment on fund­ing.

A hunt of the cur­rent 120,000 sq km search area west of Aus­tralia was due to be com­pleted in Jan­uary, with no sign of the miss­ing jet.

The rec­om­men­da­tion to ex­tend the search fol­lowed a meet­ing in Novem­ber be­tween crash in­ves­ti­ga­tors, satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion and avi­a­tion ex­perts in­clud­ing Boe­ing and gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Malaysia, China and Aus­tralia.

Wrong place?

The Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bureau said it be­lieved the plane was not in the cur­rent search area.

“There is a high de­gree of con­fi­dence that the pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied un­der­wa­ter area searched to date does not con­tain the miss­ing air­craft,” it said in its re­port.

We need cred­i­ble ev­i­dence that iden­ti­fies the spe­cific lo­ca­tion of the air­craft to ex­tend the search.” Spokes­woman for Aus­tralia’s In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port Min­is­ter

“Given the elim­i­na­tion of this area, the ex­perts iden­ti­fied an area of ap­prox­i­mately 25,000 sq km as the area with the high­est prob­a­bil­ity of con­tain­ing the wreck­age.”

The new search area is north of the cur­rent one, which has been the fo­cus of the $145 mil­lion ef­fort. It would rep­re­sent the sec­ond time the search has been ex­tended if fund­ing was forth­com­ing.

Malaysia and Aus­tralia have con­trib­uted the bulk of search fi­nanc­ing. Malaysia holds ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity given Malaysia Air­lines is reg­is­tered there, while the air­craft is thought to have crashed west of Aus­tralia, plac­ing it in the coun­try’s maritime zone of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.