Malaysia missing flight MH370: More join search

Richard Westcott reports on the use of a pinger locator to find a black box

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has entered its most intensive phase yet as dozens of planes and ships continue to scour the southern Indian Ocean.

Up to 13 planes and 11 ships are taking part on Saturday, Australian officials co-ordinating the search said.

Ships with advanced locator technology are trying to find the plane's data recorders before their batteries fade.

The plane disappeared on 8 March and was carrying 239 people.

It is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, although no confirmed debris has been found.

It is still not known why the plane diverted from its planned flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing,

'Battery fading'

The search is being co-ordinated by the Australian government's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) from the city of Perth in Western Australia.

In a statement, JACC said the focus was now on a search area of about 217,000 sq km (84,000 sq miles), 1,700 km (1,000 miles) north west of Perth.

Towed pinger locator
A worker lowers from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield the US Navy towed pinger locator into the ocean during operational testing in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the US Navy on 4 April 2014 Officials said there was "some hope" the locators would be able to find the black box

Two ships with locator capabilities are searching a 240km (150 mile) path in a bid to retrieve the data recorder.

MH370 - Facts at a glance

  • 8 March: Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight carrying 239 people disappears
  • Plane's transponder, which communicates with ground radar, was switched off as it left Malaysian airspace
  • Satellite 'pings' indicate plane was still flying seven hours after satellite contact was lost
  • 24 March: Based on new calculations, Malaysian PM says "beyond reasonable doubt" that plane crashed in southern Indian Ocean with no survivors

Australian naval vessel Ocean Shield is using a towed pinger locator device from the US Navy, while HMS Echo, which had similar capabilities, was also searching.

They are trying to detect an underwater signal emitted by the data recorders.

But on Friday Australia's search chief Angus Houston said it was a race against time as the battery-powered signal fades after 30 days.

Ships sighted a number of objects in the area on Friday but none were associated with the missing plane, the coordination agency said.

ACM Houston said that the area had been picked on the basis of analysis of the satellite data.

On Saturday, Malaysia announced it had set up three ministerial committees to help co-ordinate the search, and a new investigation team which would include members from Australia, China, the US, the UK and France.

BBC

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