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    Friday, March 28, 2014

    Flight MH370: Search shifted after 'credible lead'

    The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has moved to a new part of the Indian Ocean due to a “credible lead”, Australia says.

    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the search would now focus on an area 1,100km north-east of the previous zone.

    The move was based on more analysis of radar data that showed the plane was going faster, thus using more fuel.

    The Beijing-bound airliner disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board.

    Malaysian officials have concluded that, based on satellite data, it flew into the sea somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. So far no trace of it has been found.

    Search efforts had until Friday morning focused on an area some 2,500km (1,550 miles) to the south-west of the Australian city of Perth.

    But John Young, general manager of Amsa’s emergency response division, said that teams had “moved on” from that area based on the new information.

    A statement from Amsa - which is co-ordinating the search – said the new information had come from the international investigation team in Malaysia.

    This was based on “continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost”, Amsa said.

    “It indicated that the aircraft was travelling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance the aircraft travelled south into the Indian Ocean.”

    It said that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) had determined that this was “the most credible lead to where debris may be located”.

    The new search area is about 1,850km west of Perth and covers some 319,000 sq km (123,000 sq miles).

    Mr Young, of Amsa, said it represented the “best estimate of the area in which the aircraft is likely to have entered the ocean” and took account of possible drift.

    The new search area was outside the “roaring forties” bad weather zone, meaning conditions were likely to be better. Aircraft would also be able to spend more time in the area because it was closer to land, he said.

    The potential flight path could be the subject of further refinement as investigations continued, Amsa said, adding that satellites would now focus on the new area.

    Amsa said nine military aircraft would be scouring the area on Friday, with a civilian aircraft acting as a communications relay.

    Five ships from China and one from Australia were also relocating to that area. One Chinese patrol ship was already at the scene, Amsa said.


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