MH370 hunt proves too deep for ro­bot ve­hi­cle

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Sub­ma­rine reaches max­i­mum depth hours af­ter be­gin­ning search for wreck­age of miss­ing Malaysian Air­lines jet.

The search area for the miss­ing Malaysian jet has proved too deep for a ro­botic sub­ma­rine which was hauled back to the sur­face less than half way through its first seabed hunt for wreck­age.

Search crews sent the Bluefin 21 deep into the In­dian Ocean on Mon­day to be­gin scour­ing the seabed for the miss­ing Malaysia Air­lines Boe­ing 777 af­ter fail­ing for six days to de­tect any sig­nals be­lieved to be from its black boxes.

But af­ter only six hours of its planned 16-hour mis­sion on the sea bed, the ve­hi­cle ex­ceeded its max­i­mum depth limit of 4,500m and its built-in safety fea­ture re­turned it to the sur­face, the search co-or­di­na­tion cen­tre said on Tues­day.

What if any­thing it might have dis­cov­ered dur­ing the six-hour search was still be­ing an­a­lysed, the cen­tre said. The Bluefin 21 will re­sume the search Tues­day when weather con­di­tions per­mit.

Search au­thor­i­ties knew that the pri­mary wreck­age from flight MH370 was likely ly­ing at the limit of the Bluefin’s dive ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Deeper div­ing sub­mersibles have been eval­u­ated, but none is yet avail­able in the search area.

The search moved be­low the sur­face af­ter crews picked up a se­ries of un­der­wa­ter sounds over the past two weeks that were con­sis­tent with sig­nals from an air­craft’s black boxes, which record flight data and cock­pit con­ver­sa­tions.

The de­vices emit “pings” so they can be more eas­ily found, but their bat­ter­ies only last about a month and are now be­lieved dead.

Tony Ab­bott, the Aus­tralian prime min­is­ter, raised hopes last week when he said au­thor­i­ties were “very con­fi­dent” the four strong un­der­wa­ter sig­nals that were de­tected were from the black boxes on MH370, which dis­ap­peared on March 8 dur­ing a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Bei­jing with 239 mostly Chi­nese na­tion­als on board. Aljazeera

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