Painstaking underwater search for MH370 black box

PERTH, Australia- Two vessels were searching underwater for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on Saturday, as air and sea missions failed to find any sign of the plane and the clock ticked on the signal from its black box.

Up to 10 military planes, three civilian jets and 11 ships were set to take part in the protracted search in the southern Indian Ocean for the Boeing 777 which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.

“Today Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield and (Britain’s) HMS Echo continue underwater search operations,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said.

The vessels are hoping to pick up a battery-powered signal from the plane’s black box recorder but this sound is only emitted for roughly 30 days and could soon expire.

Angus Houston, Australia’s former military chief and now coordinator of the eight-nation search, admitted Friday “we’re now getting pretty close to the time when it might expire”.

Australia is leading the hunt for the plane which Saturday was concentrating on about 217,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean some 1,700 kilometres (1,054 miles) north west of Perth.

“Today’s search area will focus on three areas within the same vicinity,” the JACC said, adding that the forecast was for fair weather with possible showers in the remote ocean region.

No debris of Flight MH370 had yet been found but it is thought to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean after veering dramatically off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Malaysian authorities believe satellite data indicates MH370 crashed in the Indian Ocean, far off Australia’s western coastline.