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MH370: Search restarts as investigators consider 1,000 possible flight paths

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Planes and ships searched the southern Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

Planes and ships searched the southern Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

Planes and ships searched the southern Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

It has been six months since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 vanished over the Indian Ocean and yet the mystery endures. With 1,000 flight paths still to investigate, a new year-long search operation will be launched, according to the coordinating task force.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is facing an “intimidating” challenge as it prepares a fresh off-shore investigation for the missing aircraft that could cost up to £29.5 million.

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The crew on board survey ship HMS Echo helps the underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (MoD/PA)

The crew on board survey ship HMS Echo helps the underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (MoD/PA)

The crew on board survey ship HMS Echo helps the underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (MoD/PA)

Martin Dolan, ATSB’s chief commissioner, made no promises that the wreckage of MH370 would be found, and admitted that the situation is “unprecedented.”

He told the Telegraph: “I don’t want to raise the hopes of the families of the people who were lost in this accident and then dash them again. I don’t want to create a false hope.

“But I don’t want them to write it off either, because we do think we have a reasonable prospect. We just don’t have a guarantee.”

Flight 370 went down in a remote and inhospitable area of the Indian Ocean, Dolan assured, but that expanse is over 600,000 sq miles – more than three times the size of Spain.

He said a "reasonably clear picture" of the plane's final trajectory has emerged, even if there are still about 1,000 possible paths it could have taken.

"There is an infinite possible number of tracks that the aircraft could have flown along, but for practical purposes there are about 1,000," he said.

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The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield was fitted with a towed pinger locator to aid the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (AP)

The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield was fitted with a towed pinger locator to aid the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (AP)

The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield was fitted with a towed pinger locator to aid the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (AP)

Carrying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing 227 passengers and 12 crew members, the Boeing 777 known as MH370 vanished in the early hours of March 8.

Search operations lasted until late May with no significant discoveries – no trace of the plane nor its black box. Having spent months narrowing down the aircraft’s possible location, Australia and Malaysia have agreed to split the cost of the revived investigation.

China, which had 153 citizens on board, is “reflecting” on its role in operations, and will play no immediate part. Recent reports accuse Chinese police of detaining and beating the families of MH370 passengers.

 The Australia-Malaysia search operation will begin on September 22 with the deployment of a vessel called Go Pheonix. It will use “next generation sonar synthetic aperture” equipment capable of producing high-quality images of the bottom of the ocean, according to Mr Dolan.

Fugro, a Dutch engineering firm that provides services to oil and gas companies, has been contracted to manage the high-profile hunt, and will assign three vessels in the coming weeks to search operations.

The physical search, as well as data analysis in the UK, Australia and France, will focus in part of the southern Indian Ocean known as the “seventh arc.” It is 2,485 miles long.

Mr Dolan said: "We know that the aircraft is in the water or on the sea floor close to that arc, and we are doing everything we can - which is a lot - to make sure we find it there.”

Independent News Service


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A family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cries as she gathers with others to pray at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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MH370 relatives gather to mark six months since plane disappeared

Six months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, Chinese families gathered at one of Beijing's largest temples to wail for their loved ones to return. "Kids, we are here!" screamed out the grey-haired fathers and mothers of the missing passengers, some dropping to their knees as their released months of pent-up anxiety and grief. "Times flies," said 64-year-old Zhang Yongli, whose daughter was on board MH370. "We are waiting and suffering. Although you have left us for so many days, we only miss you more." While they accept there is little hope that their relatives have survived whatever befell the plane, the Chinese relatives insist they will not accept that they are dead without any concrete evidence of the disaster. "We believe you are on a beautiful island in the corner of the blue ocean," said Mr Zhang. The decision by the relatives, many of whom were wearing white "Pray for MH370" t-shirts, to gather in one of Beijing's busiest temples and tourist destinations triggered the close attention of the police. Officers and plain-clothes policemen may even have outnumbered the relatives who did gather, and eventually shooed away journalists before allowing the families to enter the temple, burn incense and say their prayers. "We picked the Lama temple because it is easy to get to by subway and bus. And it is one of the most famous temples in Beijing," said Jack Song, whose sister Song Chunling was on board. "We wanted to mark the six-month anniversary and family members wanted to see each other again. We had no other ambitions," he said.