|Posted by Adrian & Paul on April 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM|
The seabed search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished on March 8 is due to widen as a sonar scan of the most likely crash site nears its end.
A robotic submarine has scanned 95% of a 120-square-mile (310-square-kilometres) area since last week but has found nothing that might give a clue about what happened to the plane, organisers of the search in Australia said.
Up to eight military aircraft and 10 ships took part in the search for missing flight MH370 on Frida which had 239 people onboard when it disappeared.
The US Navy's Bluefin 21 sub is creating a three-dimensional sonar map of the ocean floor near where signals consistent with aircraft black boxes were heard earlier this month.
The search area is a circle with a six-mile radius, 2.8 miles deep off the west Australian coast in the Indian Ocean, and is scheduled to be completed within days.
"If no contacts of interest are made, Bluefin 21 will continue to examine the areas adjacent to the 10-kilometre radius," the Perth-based co-ordination centre said in a statement.
"We are currently consulting very closely with our international partners on the best way to continue the search into the future," it added, referring to Malaysia, the US and China.
A senior defence official, who did not want to be named, told Reuters the search could last "years".
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said his government will release a preliminary report on the plane's disappearance next week.
The report has already been sent to the UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation, but has yet to be made available to the public, according to CNN.
The Malaysian government, which has primary responsibility for the investigation, has been accused of mismanaging the search, concealing information about the tragedy and of being too slow to update families of the missing on developments.
Meanwhile in Beijing, about 50 relatives of Chinese passengers who were on the flight have continued a sit-in protest outside the Malaysian embassy after officials failed to show up to update them on the search.
"We keep on waiting because we want the news," said Steve Wang, whose parents were on the flight and who has served as a representative for the relatives.
"What we are concerned about is where is the plane, and where are our loved ones," he added.