Aerial search to locate missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane ends

Written by PTI | Perth | Updated: May 1 2014, 03:56am hrs
Australia today said the intense aerial search to locate the missing Malaysian plane has ended, as it dismissed a marine exploration company's claim that it found possible aircraft wreckage in the Bay of Bengal.

After seven weeks of a fruitless aerial hunt, the multi-national air search is over. But some ships will stay on the Indian Ocean to gather any debris that might surface.

Over the coming days the vessels that remain on standby for the search will transition to and from the search area. An Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion also remains on standby.

Other vessels and aircraft that have been engaged in the surface and aerial search will now transition to their respective national tasking in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre heading up the search for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has dismissed marine exploration company GeoResonance's claim that it found possible jet wreckage in the northern Bay of Bengal, which is located 5000 kms from the current search area.

The Bay of Bengal is located between India and Myanmar.

"The Australian led search is relying on information from satellite and other data to determine the missing aircraft's location," the Perth-based JACC said, adding that the location specified by the GeoResonance report "is not within the search arc derived from this data".

"The joint international team is satisfied that the final resting place of the missing aircraft is in the southerly portion of the search arc," it said.

Adelaide-based GeoResonance yesterday claimed that it may have found the wreckage of the crashed Malaysian jet in the Bay of Bengal, even as countries searching for the plane said they were assessing the "credibility of this information".

Meanwhile, autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin 21, a US Navy probe equipped with side-scan sonar which is scouring the ocean floor for traces of the lost plane, has completed mission 16, the JACC said.

In a statement, it said Bluefin-21, which has completed its search of the 314 sq km zone around the area where signals were detected by the Towed Pinger Locator, will continue to search adjacent areas.

"Mission 17 will commence when weather conditions improve allowing Bluefin-21 to be safely launched from Australian Defence VesselOcean Shield," it said, adding the Ocean Shield ship would remain on station supporting Bluefin-21's search activity.

The Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370-carrying 239 people, including five Indians, an Indo-Canadian and 154 Chinese nationals - had mysteriously vanished on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.

The mystery of the missing plane continued to baffle aviation and security authorities who have so far not succeeded in tracking the aircraft despite deploying hi-tech radar and other gadgets.