World / Asia-Pacific

New MH370 search has 'reasonable chance' of success

By Agence France-Presse in Sydney and Kuala Lumpur (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-21 06:52

A new underwater hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has a "reasonable chance" of finding the plane, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday, adding that searchers will not give up easily.

Flight MH370 vanished inexplicably en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, and there has been no sign since of the jetliner nor the 239 people on board.

New MH370 search has 'reasonable chance' of success

It is believed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean far off the west coast of Australia, but a massive air and sea search has failed to find any wreckage, while an underwater probe gave no clues to the jetliner's fate.

Experts have used technical data to calculate the most likely resting place of the plane, deep on the ocean seabed, and are preparing for a more-intense underwater search to find it.

"They are now going to search the entire probable impact zone, which is, from memory, something like 60,000 square kilometers of the ocean floor, off the coast of Western Australia" state, Abbott told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"If the plane is down there - and the best expert advice is that it did go into the water somewhere in this arc off the coast of Western Australia - if the plane is down there, there is a reasonable chance that we'll find it because we are using the best possible technology."

Abbott said authorities "did the best we could with the equipment available" in the first stage of the search in harsh and remote seas.

He said the next stage, the deep-water search for which Australia has engaged Dutch firm Fugro Survey, will start "in the next month or so" and could take up to a year.

Abbott has repeatedly said Australia will do its utmost to find the plane and help determine what went wrong with the Boeing 777.

"We're determined to do the right thing by the Australian families who lost their loved ones in this plane, we're determined to do the right thing by all of the bereaved families," he said. "And we've got a long way to go before we're going to give this one up."

Six Australians were onboard MH370, with the majority of passengers from China.

On Wednesday, a Malaysian bank officer and her husband were charged with forgery, theft and other offenses after allegedly stealing more than $30,000 from the accounts of four people who were on the flight.

Nur Shila Kanan, who has worked for the Malaysian operations of British banking giant HSBC for 10 years, and her mechanic husband Basheer Ahmad Maula Sahul Hameed pleaded not guilty in a Kuala Lumpur court to a total of 16 charges, their lawyer Hakeem Aiman Affandi said.

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