Australian defence vessel Ocean Shield will launch an autonomous underwater vehicle later today, after authorities looking for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 identified a reduced search area.
Former Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston, who is coordinating the international effort, said a reduced search area had been identified using the “pings” located last week.
The four transmissions, which experts said were consistent with aircraft flight recorders, are the basis for the reduced search area, Houston said in a press conference.
It will take two hours for the Blue Fin autonomous underwater vehicle to reach the ocean floor, and then a further two hours for it to return to the surface, as well as four hours for crews to download the data.
“this is the best lead we have and it must be pursued vigorously,” Houston said.
The same ship has also identified an oil slick near the search area, with a sample collected for analysis. It will be several days until testing can determine the source of the oil, Houston said.
“I stress the source of the oil is yet to be determined. We don’t think its from the ships,” he said. “It’s another lead.”
The Malaysia Airlines flight deviated from its flight path more than a month ago with 239 people on board. Authorities have concluded it most likely crashed somewhere in the Southern Indian Ocean.
More to come …
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