Sub needs another week in 777 hunt

PERTH, Australia — A robotic submarine looking for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane continued to dive today after completing about half of its search on the bottom of the Indian Ocean with no luck, prompting an official to express the urgent need to find something that can help solve the mysterious disappearance six weeks ago.

The Bluefin 21 unmanned sub began its eighth trip into the depths off the coast of western Australia. Its search area forms 6.2-mile circle around the location of an underwater signal that was believed to have come from the aircraft’s black boxes before their batteries died. The sonar scan of the seafloor in that area is expected to be completed in five to seven days, the search center said.

The U.S. Navy sub has covered more than square miles since it began diving into the depths on Monday. The latest data are being analyzed, but nothing has yet been identified.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein emphasized the importance of the weekend missions in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

“The narrowing of the search for today and tomorrow is at a very critical juncture, so I appeal to everybody around the world to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on over the next couple of days,” he said.

But he added that there were no plans to give up once the Bluefin concludes its work. Instead, he said the scope of the search may be broadened or other assets may be used.

“The search will always continue,” he said. “It is just a matter of approach. All efforts will be intensified for the next few days with regards to the underwater search.”

Meanwhile today, up to 11 aircraft and 12 ships continued to scan the ocean surface for debris from the Boeing 777 that disappeared March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

Radar and satellite data show it mysteriously veered far off course for unknown reasons and would have run out of fuel in the remote section of the southern Indian Ocean where the search has been focused. Not one piece of debris has been recovered since the massive hunt began.

The tiresome search, which continues to raise more questions than answers, has tormented the families whose loved ones were aboard Flight 370. About two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese.

On Friday, around three dozen Chinese relatives held a prayer meeting in Beijing for their missing spouses. Many sobbed heavily as candles burned on a table in the shape of a heart with “MH370” in the middle. A banner behind them read in Chinese: “Husband, wife, come home soon.”

There have been numerous leads throughout the painstaking hunt, but all have turned out to be false. The latest hope involved an oil slick found near the underwater search area, but analysis of a sample taken from the site found it was not connected to the plane.

The most promising development came when four underwater signals were detected April 5 and 8. The sounds were consistent with pings that would have been emanating from the flight data and cockpit recorders’ beacons before their batteries died.

The underwater operation is being complicated by the depth of the largely unexplored silt-covered sea floor. The U.S. Navy’s submarine has gone beyond its recommended limit of 15,000 feet, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet. That could risk the equipment, but it is being closely monitored.

The search coordination center has said the hunt for floating debris on the surface will continue at least into next week, even though the head of the search effort, Angus Houston, had earlier said it was expected to end sooner.

Today, the visual surface search was to cover an estimated 18,729 square miles of sea.

More in Local News

Agencies launch coordinated response to an opioid ‘emergency’

Health workers, law enforcement agencies and emergency managers are responding as they might to a disaster.

King County sheriff could face felony charge in groping case

A former deputy claims John Urquhart groped him. Renton police forwarded the case to the prosecutor.

Snohomish County Council passes a no-new-taxes budget

The spending plan still funds the hiring of five new sheriff’s deputies and a code enforcement officer.

Alleged philanderer attacked with hammer near Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating and allegedly called on another man to confront him.

Pair charged with first-degree robbery in marijuana theft

A man was shot in the head during a holdup that was supposed to net about an ounce of pot.

Puffy-coated robbery suspect arrested on Whidbey

The suspect apparently wore the same outfit in 2 robberies at the same place in less than 2 weeks.

Planning — and patience — can ease Thanksgiving travel

The Washington State Department of Transportation offers information to help guide planning.

Hiker rescued on Boulder River trail after 15-foot fall

She was reported to have possible leg and rib fractures.

Front Porch

JUST FOR YOUTH Fun with leftovers The week after Thanksgiving is always… Continue reading

Most Read