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Wednesday May 22, 2019

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Search for MH370 widens to 3 million sq. miles

Twenty-five countries are now involved in the search for missing flight MH370, which extends over an area of 2.97 million sq miles or 7.69 million sq km.

The search operation, which began after the plane disappeared on 8 March, is being co-ordinated by the Malaysian authorities, who are also liaising with the FBI, Interpol and other international law enforcement agencies.

The search is concentrating on two main areas, or corridors, to the north and south of the plane's last location.

The Malaysian authorities say the hunt for the plane, which vanished with 239 people on board, is still their main priority.

They have given more details about the search operation in the southern corridor, which is being headed by Australia and Indonesia.

Southern corridor hunt

Just like the northern corridor, the search has been divided into seven areas, each measuring 400 nautical miles by 400 nautical miles - or 160,000 sq nautical miles in total.

As well as Malaysia and Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Japan, UAE and the US have committed resources.

Malaysia: Two offshore patrol vessels with a super Lynx helicopter, which can operate from either ship, have been sent to search the southern corridor.

US: One P8 Poseidon and a P3 Orion aircraft are helping. The US has also been asked to deploy its defence satellites and radar in the southern corridor search.

Australia: Three P3 Orions and one C-130 Hercules are in action. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is co-ordinating the search, which is concentrating initially on an area about 1,500 nautical miles north-west of Perth.

AMSA manager John Young said the initial search field was based on satellite tracking data along with analysis of weather and currents.

"The aircraft could have gone north or south, and if it went south, this is AMSA's best estimate of where we should look with the few resources we have at our disposal for such a search."

Northern corridor hunt

Countries along the northern search arc have also been contacted by Malaysian authorities for assistance and many have committed resources, but full details have not yet been revealed.

China, where two thirds of the passengers were from, sent nine ships including an ocean-going rescue ship Yongxingdao and a number of helicopters to aid in the initial search around the Bay of Bengal and the waters to the south-west of Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java.

Now Chinese authorities say the search has begun on the territories falling within the northern corridor.

It says it has deployed 21 satellites to help with the search.

International expertise

British company Inmarsat collated the data which showed the plane had continued flying long after its communication systems were turned off. Two scientists from the company have been sent to Kuala Lumpur to help with the search.

Members of China's Civil Aviation Administration have joined the investigations team as have officials from the France's Office of Investigations and Analysis for the Safety of Civil Aviation. The French are hoping to lend expertise from the two-year search for an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.

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