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No trace of MH370 debris till now: Search official

Judith Zielke also promised to update families of those on board with the latest search information on a regular basis.

Based on a drift model, the MH370 debris might possibly be first washed ashore to the west coast of Sumatra 123 days after the crash, Search Operation Coordinator Peter Foley said at a press conference held in Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), the main coordinating agency, in Canberra.

The plane disappeared with 239 people on board during a flight March 8 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and its whereabouts remains a mystery.

Foley added that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the chief science agency in Australia, has been asked to develop a refined drift model to identify the wider areas where debris could possibly be washed ashore so that more people can be informed of the possibility and pay due attention, Xinhua reported.

Currently, there are three vessels out at the sea about 2,300 km off the coast of Perth for the search, with 35 personnel on board each of the vessel working around the clock in shifts.

Fugro Discovery is resupplying at Fremantle while Fugro Equator is undertaking bathymetric survey. Both vessels are contracted by the Australian government.

Fugro Equator's mobilisation to conduct underwater search activities has been postponed due to delays in the supply of the new deep tow winch and cable. The ATSB has, therefore, utilised the vessel effectively by continuing the bathymetric survey work.

Fugro Equator arrived in the search area Nov 21 and has since surveyed over 4,000 sq km, bringing the total area surveyed to over 170,000 sq km.

The third vessel, GO Phoenix, contracted by the Malaysian government, continues to conduct underwater search operations in the assigned search area.

Zielke said the priority of the search operation at this stage is to complete the priority area of about 60,000 sq km before weather conditions worsen in winter.

She said the JACC was trying its best to respond to queries from victim families through email, letters or tele-conference.
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