May 01, 2014 07:46
The aerial search for a missing Malaysian jetliner has officially ended, with military aircraft leaving the area of the Indian Ocean where the plane was believed to have crashed.
The U.S. Navy issued a statement Wednesday saying flight operations from the Seventh Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge have stopped and the vessel will return to other operations this week.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was carrying 239 passengers when it disappeared on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
U.S. Navy Commander William Marks said the decision to discontinue use of the search aircraft was made in close coordination with the Australian and Malaysian governments "in view of the diminishing possibility on the surface of the water."
Earlier this week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the search will be entering a new phase, with submersible vehicles searching a much larger area of the ocean floor.
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Wednesday he will travel to Australia next week to discuss the next phase of the search along with the operation's cost.
Hussein also says authorities are looking into claims by a private land and sea survey company that it detected material in the Bay of Bengal that could be wreckage from an aircraft.
The location identified by GeoResonance is thousands of kilometers from the current search area off the southwest Australian coast.
The Australian agency coordinating the multinational search has dismissed the claim, saying it is "satisfied" with its current search location.
Investigators determined the current search area using satellite data and what they believe are signals from the plane's flight data recorder.
The Malaysian government believes someone with aviation knowledge intentionally diverted the plane, but an investigation has turned up no solid leads.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com