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Publication Date : 27-06-2014
Hunt for MH370 to focus on priority area farther south of previous effort
News on Thursday of a fresh search zone for the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared more than three months ago failed to lift the spirits of relatives of the 154 Chinese passengers on board.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said in Canberra the new phase of the search will focus on a priority area of about 60,000 sq km farther south of the previous search area.
Australia is leading a multinational search for the Boeing 777-200 that had 239 people aboard when it disappeared on March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Many countries, including China, Malaysia and Australia, have joined the search but have failed to find the aircraft.
Liu Kun, of Jining, Shandong province, whose brother was on the flight, said, "I feel numb even though they say the search is entering a new phase."
Liu said he believes that people on the flight are still alive and that authorities should refocus their search efforts on land.
Jiang Hui, whose mother was on the flight, urged the search teams to publish more details.
"I've lost count of the number of times the search area has been moved, and I expect it will soon be moved yet again," he said.
"If they do not publish all the details of how they have reached their conclusions, they are hiding something and I would never trust such conclusions," Jiang said.
On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping again urged Malaysia to draw up a plan to search for the plane and to cope with the aftermath of its disappearance.
Xi made the appeal during a meeting in Beijing with Pandikar Amin Mulia, speaker of the Malaysian House of Representatives.
He said China hopes that Malaysia will continue to coordinate with other countries on the search efforts.
Truss said the search in the new area could take place in two stages and include an underwater survey that will provide a map of the new zone. This could take up to three months and be followed by a deep-water search that could take up to a year.
He said the new priority zone will still focus on the area where the aircraft last made contact with communications systems. "We are now shifting our attention to an area farther south," Truss added.
He said the authorities believe it is "highly, highly likely" that the aircraft was on autopilot when it disappeared.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army navy ship Zhu Kezhen has been tasked by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to undertake the survey of the new search area along with a commercial vessel under contract from the Australian government.
Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said that producing a map of the seabed in the search area is the only option for the search teams.
He added that the plane's black box flight recorders had "died" more than two months ago.