1. Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister says a failed satellite call is the latest lead in finding MH370, suggesting the plane turned south earlier than first thought.
Warren Truss briefed the media at a joint press conference with Malaysia’s Minister for Transport Liow Tiong Lai and China’s Vice Minister for Transport He Jianzhong, in Canberra on Thursday.
“A failed satellite telephone conversation was attempted between Malaysia Airlines on the ground and the aircraft, and that has suggested to us that the aircraft may have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected,” said Mr Truss.
“Some of the information we now have suggests to us that areas a little further to the south… But the search area remains the same.”
The sea-floor search has currently surveyed less than 10-per-cent of the 1.1 million square kilometere priority area, where the MH370 is believed to have gone down on March 8 with 239 people on board.
“The (data) expanded our knowledge of the area, indicating depths up to 1500 metres deeper than previously known, and the identification of two underwater volcanos,” said Mr Truss.
According to the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre, the next stage of the search will soon start which will see towed vehicles equipped with sonar and video cameras, dragged along the sea-floor over a 12 month period.
Deputy Prime Minister Truss had earlier signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with Liow Tiong Lai, which would see Malaysia match the cost for the search, off the coast of Perth.
“We have so far committed and spent about $15 million (AUD) and we are also going to match the Australians in the tender cost for this search for MH370,” said Liow Tiong Lai.
Australia had budgeted up to $90 million over the next two years to find the downed plane and has made no indication it would extend searching beyond that period.
“Malaysia’s pledge continued and unwavering support in response to the unprecedented nature and scale of this event through our financial commitment, technical expertise, equipment, and stamina in our search for answers,” he said.