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MH370 search may be in wrong area: experts

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/07/2016

Searchers at the Dutch company leading the hunt for Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 say they believe the plane may have glided down rather than dived in the final moments, meaning they have been scouring the wrong patch of ocean for two years.

Flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014 with 239 passengers, including two New Zealanders, and crew on board en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

Searchers led by engineering group Fugro have been combing an area roughly the size of Greece for two years.

That search, over 120,000 sq km of the southern Indian Ocean off Western Australia, is expected to end in three months and could be called off after that following a meeting of key countries Malaysia, China and Australia on Friday. So far, nothing has been found.

"If it's not there, it means it's somewhere else," Fugro project director Paul Kennedy told Reuters.

While Kennedy does not exclude extreme possibilities that could have made the plane impossible to spot in the search zone, he and his team argue a more likely option is the plane glided down - meaning it was manned at the end - and made it beyond the area marked out by calculations from satellite images.

"If it was manned it could glide for a long way," Mr Kennedy said. "You could glide it for further than our search area is, so I believe the logical conclusion will be well maybe that is the other scenario."

Fugro's controlled glide hypothesis is also the first time officials have leant some support to contested theories that someone was in control during the flight's final moments.

File picture shows French gendarmes and police inspecting a large piece of plane debris which was found on the beach in Saint-Andre, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion. © Reuters File picture shows French gendarmes and police inspecting a large piece of plane debris which was found on the beach in Saint-Andre, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.
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