Friday, November 28, 2014

Plane search to shift

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Malaysia said today it has narrowed the search for a downed jetliner to an area the size of Alaska in the southern Indian Ocean.
Australia, meanwhile, said improved weather would allow the hunt for possible debris from the plane to resume.

The comments from Defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein came a day after the country’s prime minister announced a new analysis of satellite data confirmed the plane had crashed in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 aboard.
But the searchers will face a daunting task of combing a vast expanse of choppy seas for suspected remnants of the aircraft sighted earlier.
“We’re not searching for a needle in a haystack—we’re still trying to define where the haystack is,” Australia’s deputy defence chief, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, told reporters at a military base in Perth as idled planes stood behind him.
There had been two corridors—based on rough satellite data—for the search.
Hishammuddin said operations had been halted in the northern corridor that swept up from Malaysia toward Central Asia, as well as in the northern section of the southern corridor that arches down from Malaysia toward Antarctica.
That still leaves a large area of 1.6 million square km, but just 20 percent of the area that previously was being searched.
In remarks to the Malaysian Parliament earlier today, Prime Minister Najib Razak cautioned that the search will take a long time and “we will have to face unexpected and extraordinary challenges.”
Late Monday, Najib announced the Boeing 777 had gone down in the sea with no survivors.
That’s all that investigators and the Malaysian government have been able to say with certainty about Flight 370’s fate since it disappeared March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.
Left unanswered are many troubling questions about why it was so far off course.
Experts piecing together radar and satellite data believe the plane back-tracked over Malaysia and then travelled in the opposite direction to the Indian Ocean.
Investigators will be looking at various possibilities, including mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism, or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.
“We do not know why. We do not know how. We do not know how the terrible tragedy happened,” the airline’s chief executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, told reporters.

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