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Underwater MH370 search phase set to begin

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

09-30-2014 11:58 BJT

Full coverage: Malaysia Airlines Plane Bound for Beijing Goes Missing

SYDNEY, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Search teams will resume the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 off the Australian coast on Wednesday, and will use new three-dimensional maps of the southern Indian Ocean floor and underwater devices to help their efforts.

One of the largest international aviation searches in history has been underway after MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board during its March 8 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

According to the Australian Safety Transport Bureau (ASTB), which is leading the search, a Malaysian ship, GO Phoenix, is expected to arrive at the newly defined search area far off the Western Australian coast on Wednesday and stay for 20 days before refueling.

On Thursday, a second ship, the Fugro Discovery, will arrive at Fremantle to join the search.

The two ships will use sonar and submersible craft to venture 16,000-feet (4,880-meter) deep to scan the "priority" sections of the search arc.

A third ship, the Fugro Equator, which is currently mapping the sea floor, will join the other two vessels at the end of October.

So far, more than 106,000 square km of the wide search area have been surveyed, the ASTB said.

"The comprehensive plan for the underwater search will include a sequence of priority areas. The first area to be searched has already been surveyed to ensure an accurate understanding of the sea floor topography," the ASTB said.

Authorities said the recent refinement to the analysis has given greater certainty about when the aircraft turned south into the Indian Ocean and has produced a better understanding of the parameters within which the satellite ground station was operating during the last flight of MH370.

"Based on these refinements, the Search Strategy Working Group is finalising its latest assessment of the highest priority areas for the search, which will most likely extend south of the previous 'orange' priority area," the ASTB said.

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