Canberra, March 30:
The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 1,850 km west of Perth concluded Sunday with no headway as ships retrieved objects that could not be related to the aircraft, Australian authorities said.
“Search activities for Sunday have now concluded. Approximately 252,000 sq km were searched,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in its latest update.
Sunday’s search operation involved nine aircraft, including two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Chinese air force Ilyushin IL-76, a South Korean Navy P3 Orion, a US Navy P8 Poseidon, a Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130 Hercules and two civil aircraft.
“Eight ships were tasked in the MH370 search area with a merchant ship also transiting through the area. This represents the greatest number of ships tasked in the search to date,” AMSA said.
“Aircraft in the search area have continued to report sightings of objects similar to those reported previously. Objects sighted by aircraft cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships. Nothing has yet been verified as being from MH370.”
Though a number of objects were retrieved by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Success and Haixun 01 Saturday, these are not believed to be related to MH370, AMSA said. The objects have been described as fishing equipment and other flotsam.
“The weather in the search area was described as reasonable for searching. Visibility was reported as being in excess of 10 km,” AMSA said, adding that the search would continue Monday “subject to weather conditions”.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.
The Boeing 777-200ER was scheduled to land in Beijing the same day. The 226 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.
The plane lost contact along with its radar signal when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur Monday cited British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) as confirming that flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.
“Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth,” he added.