Thursday, February 08, 2018

Malaysia says no mystery over 'missing' MH370 search ship

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 8 Malaysia today quashed rumours swirling after a ship searching for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from tracking screens, saying it had simply made a refuelling stop in Australia and would resume the hunt.

The Seabed Constructor, hired in January for a fresh search for the missing plane, turned off its location transponder for three days without explanation early this month, sparking a slew of speculation, including that it had gone on a treasure hunt.

"There is nothing to be worried about. We urge family members not to listen to rumours or fake news," Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told AFP.

He said the Seabed Constructor "is doing fine" and that "the search will continue as planned".

MH370 disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people -- mostly from China -- on board while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

An earlier Australia-led search -- the largest-ever in aviation history -- scoured 120,000 square kilometres of a remote region of the Indian Ocean for 28 months but found no trace of the aircraft, and the hunt was suspended last January.

Last month the Malaysian government hired Ocean Infinity, a private firm, to head a fresh hunt for the missing plane.
Search ship Seabed Constructor has deployed high-tech underwater drones to cover a new area of about 25,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean.

But 10 days into into its mission, it switched off its Automatic Identification System without any explanation.

Liow, however, clarified that the vessel had returned to the Australian port of Fremantle for a scheduled refuelling.

Some relatives of the missing passengers and crew of MH370 said they had been left in the dark over why the ship disappeared from monitors.
08/02/18 AFP/Outlook