Sea bed search for MH370 turns up no clues
By The Associated Press
April 28, 2014, Canberra, Aus. - The seabed search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is set to widen as a sonar scan of the most likely crash site deep beneath the Indian Ocean nears completion without yielding a single clue, authorities said Friday.
By The Associated Press
Meanwhile in Beijing, about 50 relatives of Chinese passengers on the
plane continued a sit-in protest outside the Malaysian Embassy after
officials failed to show up to update them on the search.
The Australian search co-ordinationcentre said a
robotic submarine had scanned 95 per cent of a 310-square-kilometre
(120-square-mile) search area since last week but had found nothing of
interest. The U.S. Navy's Bluefin 21 is creating a three-dimensional
sonar map of the ocean floor near where signals consistent with airplane
black boxes were heard on April 8.
The search area is a circle with a
10-kilometre (6-mile) radius, 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) deep off the
west Australian coast. The search of the target area is scheduled to be
completed within days.
"If no contacts of interest are made,
Bluefin 21 will continue to examine the areas adjacent to the
10-kilometre radius," the centre said in a statement.
"We are currently
consulting very closely with our international partners on the best way
to continue the search into the future," it added, referring to
Malaysia, United States and China.
Malaysia hopes to release to the public
next week a preliminary investigation report on the plane's
disappearance, an official in Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's
"We are also looking at releasing the
cargo manifest and aircraft seating arrangement," said the official, who
declined to be named, citing departmental policy.
The report has already been sent to the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization, the official said.
The Malaysian government, which has
primary responsibility for the investigation, has been criticized for
mismanaging the search, concealing information about the tragedy and of
being too slow to update families of the missing on developments.
In Beijing, the relatives
marched to the Malaysian Embassy from their hotel Thursday night after
Malaysian officials failed to show up for a promised briefing.
"We keep on waiting because we want the
news," said Steve Wang, whose parents were aboard the flight and who has
served as a representative for the relatives. "What we are concerned
about is where is the plane, and where are our loved ones."
Some relatives scuffled with police
officers who tried to prevent them from leaving the hotel. On Friday
morning, more than 100 police and paramilitary officers cordoned off the
area around the embassy.
Malaysia Airlines said relatives held 10
of its staff members for nearly 11 hours inside the hotel ballroom where
Thursday's briefing was taking place, insisting they wait there while
the family members went to the embassy to try to get a Malaysian
official to attend the meeting. The group finally released the staff
members at 1:44 a.m. Friday, the airline said in a statement.
Wang said the relatives felt slighted by
the failure of the Malaysian officials to appear for the briefing. A
number of Chinese relatives have refused to accept the theory that the
plane crashed in the Indian Ocean and insist that Malaysian officials
have not told them the truth about the plane's disappearance.
Minister David Johnston said this week that an announcement would likely
come next week on the next phase of the search for the Boeing 777,
which vanished with 239 people — mostly Chinese — on board during a
March 8 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
He said the next phase was likely to deploy more powerful side-scan sonar equipment that can delve deeper than the Bluefin 21.
On Friday, up to eight planes and 10
ships searched for debris over a 49,000-square-kilometre
(19,000-square-mile) ocean expanse 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles)
northwest of the Australian west coast city of Perth, where the search
is headquartered, the centre said.