Malaysia promises search for Flight 370 will continue until it is found

  • Article by: KEITH BRADSHER , New York Times
  • Updated: July 6, 2014 - 6:15 PM

The Malaysian government is stepping up efforts to find the wreckage of Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean.

Family members of passengers lost on Flight 370 attended the opening of a tribute photo exhibit.

– The Malaysian government said Sunday that it would step up efforts to search the southern Indian Ocean for Malaysia Airlines’ missing Flight 370, in the latest indication that a broad international effort to find the plane will continue for many months.

The Malaysian defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, announced at the opening here of a photo exhibition dedicated to the missing passengers that Malaysia would send one of its navy vessels with deep-sea survey equipment as well as two ­commercial vessels with towed, sonar-equipped submersibles.

Malaysia also will keep another naval vessel in the southern Indian Ocean, the Bunga Mas 6, which has been providing logistical support to other ships involved in the search. “The search will not stop until we find it,” Hishammuddin said.

The missing aircraft, a Boeing 777-200, disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard during what was supposed to be a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Six groups separately analyzing satellite signals from the aircraft all came to the conclusion that it mysteriously turned south after passing the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and then ran out of fuel over the southern Indian Ocean and crashed.

Australia has a deep-sea survey ship there, the Fugro Equator, that it chartered to map the ocean floor in the area. The ship is designed to withstand the towering waves and powerful storms that sometimes move through the area 1,000 miles west of Perth. China has also sent a deep-sea survey vessel, the Zhu Kezhen, although Angus Houston, the Australian official overseeing the search and rescue effort, said last month that the Chinese vessel was less specialized for working in heavy seas.

Australia stopped accepting tenders last week for a $56 million contract for up to three towed submersibles to spend as long as a year scanning the ocean floor with sonar to look for debris from the plane. A winner has not been selected.

Deep-sea submersibles are more reliable if they are towed fairly close to the ocean floor — sometimes as little as 100 feet from the bottom. But the submersibles can be wrecked if towed into a cliff or other seafloor feature. So the first step has been to map the sea floor in considerable detail for possible obstructions in the planned paths of the submersibles.

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