Aerial hunt for missing jet ends, search ops scaled back

Australian authorities said the focus would transition ‘over the coming weeks’ to a more intensified undersea search in the quest to find out what happened to the Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people aboard that disappeared on 8 March. Eight nations have been involved in the unprecedented hunt - Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Britain and China - with more than 300 sorties flown across a vast expanse of remote ocean looking for debris.

But with nothing to show for their efforts from scanning more than 4.5 million sq km from the air since 18 March, the planes have been stood down. ‘Most of the aircraft will have left by the end of today,’ a spokesman for the Australian-led Joint Agency Coordination Centre said, although an Australian P-3 Orion would remain on standby in Perth.

The United States, Japan, New Zealand and Malaysia all confirmed that their aircraft were returning to base. There was no immediate word on Wednesday from China, which accounted for most of the passengers on board. As many as 14 ships from Australia, China and Britain were also involved in scanning the ocean surface for debris or black box signals but many of these are also pulling out.

‘Some need to head back to port and refuel and give the crew a rest, others will go back to doing what they were doing for their respective nations before they joined the search,’ the spokesman said. ‘In essence, the surface search has been scaled back. We will keep a few vessels out there and others on standby, but the large-scale air and sea search has ended.’
Next Story
Share it