New data expand search for plane debris
Rain was expected to hamper the hunt today for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as a growing number of planes focus on an expanded area of the south Indian Ocean where a French satellite detected potential debris.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s rescue coordination center said the search area was expanded from 22,800 to 26,400 square miles, including a new separate area because of data provided by France on Sunday.
The U.S. Pacific command said it was sending a black- box locator to the region in case a debris field is located. The Towed Pinger Locator has highly sensitive listening capability so that if the wreck site is located, it can hear the black-box pinger down to a depth of about 20,000 feet, Cmdr. Chris Budde, a U.S. Seventh Fleet operations officer, said in a statement.
Two Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 planes joined the search from Perth on today, increasing the number of aircraft from eight Sunday to 10, AMSA said.
It said the weather in the search area, about 1,550 miles southwest of Perth, was expected to deteriorate with rain likely.
Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss said “nothing of note” was found Sunday, which he described as a “fruitless day.”
“It’s going to be a challenge, but we’ll stick at it,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio before the first aircraft left Perth at dawn.