April 26, 2014 in Nation/World

Underwater search zone for Malaysia airliner to expand

Rod Mcguirk Associated Press
 

CANBERRA, Australia – 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.

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 coordination center said a robotic submarine had scanned 95 percent of a 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 6-mile radius, 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 (6-mile) radius,” the center 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 department said.

The Malaysian government, which has primary responsibility for the investigation, has been criticized for mismanaging the search and concealing information about the tragedy.

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