Flight MH370

Malaysia Airlines flight 370

China sends ships and helicopters to Australian west coast in search for MH370

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 1:00pm

China has deployed seven ships, carrying five helicopters, to scour the area off the west coast of Australia for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Sunday, the Beijing News reported.

As well as key designated search sites, three more ships are looking for possible debris of the missing plane in the north of the search area and the East Indian Ocean, the report said, citing the Ministry of Transport.

The seven ships are covering an area of 320,000 nautical miles – a drastic increase from the original targeted 90,000 nautical miles – after the Chinese search and operation centre decided to expand its search area, it said.

Vessels Haixun 31 and Haijun 863 continued its operation in Eastern Indian Ocean, while icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, continued on Sunday its search north of the key sites.

Chief of the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre He Jianzhong told Xinhua on Sunday that search efforts had failed to discover any suspected objects linked with the plane, and that the Chinese vessels would expand their search area.

The official added that the centre has mobilised 61 merchant ships travelling in the seas west of Australia and Indonesia as well as another 20 fishing boats in the central Indian Ocean, but that nothing had yet been discovered.

Monday’s search and recovery operation in the Australian Search and Rescue Region for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 commenced at about 9am local time on Monday (6am HKT), the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in its latest update.

AMSA said some parts of the search area would experience low cloud and rain throughout the day. According to AMSA arrangements, Monday’s search activities will involve a total of 10 aircraft.

This included a China People’s Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream jet, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a United States Navy P8 Poseidon, two Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130 Hercules and one civil jet acting as a communications relay.

Watch: Malaysians pay tribute to passengers of missing jet