Final sweep for MH370 sea search
The last vessel searching for missing MH370 has left on its final sweep across the southern Indian Ocean, Australia said on Wednesday, as the transport minister cautioned the airliner might not be found in coming weeks.
Fugro Equator sailed from Fremantle port on Australia’s western coast on Monday for the 120,000 square-kilometre zone where investigators believe the Malaysian Airlines jet disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, carrying 239 passengers and crew.
No trace has been found in the massive undersea hunt off Australia but investigators have confirmed that three pieces of debris recovered on western Indian Ocean shorelines came from MH370.
“It has been an heroic undertaking but we have to prepare ourselves for the prospect that we may not find MH370 in the coming weeks, although we remain hopeful,” Transport Minister Darren Chester told The West Australian on Tuesday.
The newspaper added that the ship’s final hunt would involve examining some 200 small areas which were either too deep for previous sweeps or were not properly examined due to poor sonar readings.
The government agency leading the search, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), said today that the Equator’s mission was expected to draw to a close next month.Many next-of-kin have repeatedly complained about the lack of a coordinated search in the western Indian Ocean and along the African coast.
Relatives of some of the missing passengers are currently in Madagascar, combing beaches for clues about the lost plane, after fragments identified with “near certainty” as coming from MH370 were discovered in recent months on the coast of East Africa.