World / Asia-Pacific

MH370 search discovers 'interesting' objects on seabed

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-05 13:30

CANBERRA - Investigators searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 have discovered "hard objects" on the Indian Ocean seabed that seem inconsistent with their surroundings, according to media reports.

Fresh mapping of the MH370 search area has detected the objects with satellite-tracking data and flight-simulation analysis.

The Times newspaper reported in London that Martin Dolan of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said new surveys of the seabeds had revealed the interesting findings, even if it was possible they were rock formations.

Speaking to The Times, Dolan said, "there is nothing that has screamed out and said 'I look like an aircraft'."

"It's still a hell of an area. The area is horribly, horribly complicated."

Dolan, who is conducting the search, is also confident that a smaller search area will be announced soon, based on satellite data and the use of flight simulators.

The aircraft disappeared from radar screens on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board after it departed Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia en route for Beijing.

But the most expensive search in aviation history as so far failed to spot any wreckage from the airliner.

Experts from Australia, Britain and the US are confident that they have narrowed the likely resting place to a smaller, 60,000 sq km arc in the Indian Ocean, 1,800 km off the coast of Western Australia.

"The complexities surrounding the search cannot be understated. It involves vast areas of the Indian Ocean with only limited known data and aircraft flight information," Dolan said.

"While it is impossible to determine with certainty where the aircraft may have entered the water, all the available data indicates a highly probable search area close to a long but narrow arc of the southern Indian Ocean.

"The search will be a major undertaking. The complexities and challenges involved are immense, but not impossible.

"The best minds from around the world have been reviewing, refining and localizing the most likely area where the aircraft entered the water, which is why we remain confident of finding the aircraft."

The latest developments from the search come after investigators now think MH370 turned south a little sooner than first thought.

Australia's Transport Minister Warren Truss revealed this when Australia signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai in Canberra recently.

Truss, the deputy Prime Minister, said more research had been done in trying to trace the unsuccessful phone call, Malaysia Airlines ground staff made to the plane when it disappeared from radar back in March.

"Some work has been done in endeavoring to map the position of the aircraft when a failed satellite telephone conversation was attempted between Malaysia Airlines on the ground and the aircraft, " Truss said.

"That has suggested to us that the aircraft may have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected."

The Malaysian government has said it would be splitting the cost of the tender for the deep underwater search with Australia.

Last month the government announced Dutch company Fugro was awarded a contract to scour the ocean floor for wreckage.

The operation, which is due to begin next month, is expected to take a year and cost millions of US dollars.

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