Search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could take years: US Navy

Written by Reuters | Kuala Lumpur | Updated: Mar 31 2014, 13:20pm hrs
THE search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could take years, US Navy officials suggested on Sunday, as search and rescue officials raced to locate the planes black box recorder days before its batteries are set to die.

Ten ships and as many aircraft are searching a massive area in the Indian Ocean west of Perth, trying to find some trace of the aircraft, which went missing more than three weeks ago and is presumed to have crashed.

The chief of the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre, He Jianzhong, told Xinhua no objects linked to the plane had been found on Sunday, and that Chinese vessels would expand their search area.

Numerous objects have been spotted in the two days since Australian authorities moved the search 1,100 km after new analysis of radar and satellite data concluded the Boeing 777 travelled faster and for a shorter distance after vanishing from civilian radar screens on March 8. None has been confirmed as coming from Flight MH370.

US Navy Captain Mark Matthews, in charge of US Towed Pinger Locator (TPL), told journalists at Stirling Naval Base near Perth that the lack of information about where the plane went down seriously hampers the ability to find it.

Right now the search area is basically the size of Indian Ocean, which would take an untenable amount of time to search, he said.

If you compare this to Air France flight 447, we had much better positional information of where that aircraft went into the water, he said, referring to a plane that crashed in 2009 near Brazil and which took more than two years to find.

The Malaysian government has come under strong criticism from China, home to more than 150 of the passengers, where relatives of the missing have accused the government of delays and deception.

On Sunday, dozens of angry relatives of Chinese passengers from Beijing met with Chinese embassy officials in Kuala Lumpur, piling more pressure on the Malaysian government over its handling of the case.

We want the Malaysian government to apologise for giving out confusing information in the past week which caused the delay in the search and rescue effort, said Jiang Hui, a relative of one of the victims.

Meanwhile, top US lawmakers familiar with the intelligence information Sunday said evidence garnered so far do not indicate terrorism as a possible cause.

I have seen nothing yet that has come out of the investigation that would lead me to conclude that there was anything other than a normal flight, that something happened, something went wrong, Congressman Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Fox news.