From Nik Nurfaqih Nik Wil
PERTH, (April 18 ) — No concrete evidence has been found as yet of a missing Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight following four underwater search missions by an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) codenamed Bluefin-21 in the southern Indian Ocean since Monday.
The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said Friday the AUV had so far searched an area of about 110 sq km.
JACC said in a statement that the AUV had been deployed on its fifth mission Friday, the 42nd day of the search for the Flight MH370 which disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.
Bluefin-21, a probe equipped with side-scan sonar, was dispatched in the hope of locating any debris of the missing plane underwater, as no further confirmed signals were picked up by the towed pinger locator since April 8.
It uses acoustic sounds to create a 3D map of the sea floor and will take a minimum of 24 hours to complete each mission, which includes four hours to download the collected data.
JACC said Friday’s search operation, which entered its 42nd day, involved 11 military aircraft and 12 ships with a visual search area of about 51,870 sq km across three areas.
The weather forecast for today was isolated showers and south-easterly winds, the agency said.
Flight MH370, with 239 people aboard, left the KL International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30 am on the same day.
A multinational search was mounted for the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then, after it was learnt that the plane had veered off course, in the southern Indian Ocean.
After an analysis of satellite data indicated that the plane’s last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced on March 24 that Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.– BERNAMA