Search for missing Malaysian plane to go underwater

FILE - The Bluefin 21, the Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is hoisted back on board the Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing
Teams searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane are to deploy a robotic submarine for the first time.
Search chief Angus Houston said the Bluefin-21 drone would be sent down as soon as possible to search for wreckage on the sea floor.
Teams have been using a towed pinger locator to listen for signals from the plane\’s "black box" flight recorders.
Air Chief Marshal Houston, who heads the joint agency co-ordinating the search effort, said that given no signals had been detected in six days, it was time to go underwater.
Authorities have warned that investigators will have lost their chief means of detection when the flight recorder transmitter batteries lose power. Those batteries are designed to operate for 30 days – possibly a little longer. The plane disappeared 38 days ago.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott continues to sound notes of caution, stressing that trying to find anything nearly five kilometers below the surface of the Indian Ocean a thousand kilometers from land is a huge task that will not likely end any time soon.
A leading Malaysian newspaper has said investigators probing the plane\’s disappearance suspect the co-pilot attempted to make a cell-phone call after the jetliner deviated from its original course.
The pro-government New Straits Times has said investigators believe the call ended abruptly after the phone made contact with a communications tower, as the jetliner flew at low altitude northwest of the island of Penang. The newspaper said its sources declined to reveal who the caller was trying to reach.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has cast doubt on the report, telling reporters he would have been informed about such a call if it had taken place.
Flight MH370 went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board. It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers over the South China Sea.
Source: Agencies
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