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Malaysia speeds up search for missing MH370 flight


Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia today stepped up its search for the missing MH370 plane with all four vessels being deployed in same area in the southern Indian Ocean for the first time, even as Chinese relatives of those on board the jet protested the declaration that all passengers were dead.

“All four vessels have been deployed in the search ops, but for the first time all four in the search area at the same time/concurrently #MH370,” Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai tweeted.

Three vessels – Go Phoenix, Fugro Equator and Fugro Discovery – are equipped with towed vehicles (towfish) synthetic aperture sonar, side scan sonar and multi-beam echo sounders.

These instruments collect data which is relayed in real time to the vessels where it is processed and analysed, to determine if there is any evidence of debris on the seafloor associated with the missing plane, The Star online reported.

The Fugro Supporter is equipped with a Kongsberg HUGIN 4500 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).

Go Phoenix arrived in the search area and recommenced search operations on Tuesday.

At least 15 people gathered outside the carrier’s office today wearing white caps and red T-shirts bearing the words: “Pray for MH370.”

The relatives held placards reading: “Who can tell us what happened”, “Come back MH370″ and “Today it is us, Tomorrow it could be you.”

Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre’s (JACC) latest operational report stated that search operations were hindered earlier this month due to weather conditions associated with the tropical cyclones Diamondra and Eunice.

JACC said more than 22,000 sq kilometres of the sea floor or 36 per cent of the priority search area had been searched so far.

“Assuming no other significant delays with vessels, equipment or from the weather, the current underwater search area may be largely completed around May,” the report said.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – having 239 people, including five Indians, on board – disappeared from the radar on March 8 last year while on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Malaysia has declared the mysterious disappearance as an “accident” and said all those on board were presumed dead.

Chinese families of passengers on the missing airliner rejected the statement and demanded its withdrawal, saying that without hard evidence they don’t want to start compensation claims.

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