Sense of desperation as MH370 search enters third week

March 22, 2014 5:45 am
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A crew member on a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft participates in the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370/AFP
A crew member on a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft participates in the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370/AFP

, PERTH, Mar 22 – Australian rescuers stepped up the search for Malaysian Flight MH370 as pressure mounted Saturday to find the missing plane that vanished two weeks ago and has defied the best efforts of modern technology to track it down.

Six planes, including four Orion anti-submarine aircraft packed with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, joined the search for debris from the aircraft over a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth.

Chinese, British and Australian naval ships were all steaming to the same area where two floating objects – possibly plane wreckage – were picked out on grainy satellite pictures.

With planes from China and Japan also expected to join the hunt, the sudden concentration of resources on the basis of such inconclusive evidence reflects growing desperation after 14 days of piecemeal progress.

There have been no sightings of interest since Thursday, when Australia released the satellite photos taken on March 16. READ: Australian planes search remote seas for Malaysia jet debris.

Some experts warn the larger of the two objects – measuring an estimated 24 metres (79 feet) across – could be a shipping container, while Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss cautioned that any possible debris may have sunk.

“Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating. It may have slipped to the bottom,” he said.

After Australian and Malaysian officials hailed the satellite images as the most “credible” lead to date, failure to find anything soon will be a body blow to a search operation already tainted by false leads and dead ends.

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