Australia releases MH370 search area maps

Canberra, July 19 (IANS) Australia on Wednesday released the first series of data and maps of the Indian Ocean seabed that the search teams scoured to locate the MH370, a Malaysia Airlines aircraft that disappeared in 2014 with 239 people onboard.

Australia, which coordinated the search operation, along with China and Malaysia had focused on a lonely stretch of the Indian Ocean where experts believed the plane might have crashed, Efe news reported.

Geoscience Australia (GA), a government agency that carries out geoscientific research, drew the maps with the help of bathymetric data or topography of the selected marine area, and an underwater search was subsequently carried out over an area of 120,000 square kilometres.

Data from the second phase of the search will be released in mid-2018, GA said in a statement.

Between 10 and 15 per cent of the seabed was analysed with this technology, said Stuart Minchin, Chief of Geoscience Australia’s environmental geoscience division. He said the data is unique owing to the remote location of the area examined.

Data from the first phase show in great detail high crests, underwater volcanoes, enormous ridges and deep fault valleys across the remote ocean.

The data can contribute to a greater understanding of the geology of the seabed and throw light on the complexity of the processes that occur there, Minchin added.

MH370 disappeared from the radars on March 8, 2014, around 40 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur and enroute to Beijing, when someone turned off the communication systems and changed the plane’s route, according to the official investigation.

Malaysia, Australia and China called off the unsuccessful search, that cost an estimated $135 million, in January this year.

So far, parts of the plane have been recovered from beaches in the French island of Reunion, Mozambique, Mauritius, South Africa and the Pemba Island (Zanzibar).

–IANS

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