The search team for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has found 58 “hard objects” in the Indian Ocean during the mapping of the seabed, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Sunday, according to reports. The hard objects, which are reportedly inconsistent with objects found on the seabed, are yet to be verified for links to the missing jetliner.
Liow said, during a press conference, that the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, or JACC, which is leading the search for the Boeing 777, is currently trying to retrieve the objects to be analyzed for identification, the Malaysia Chronicle reported. He also added that the search for Flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8 shortly after leaving Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, is at a crucial stage.
“We have found 58 hard objects in the ocean floor, but have yet to identify if they are from flight MH370,” Liow reportedly said Sunday. “Now, we have to deploy our assets to the sea floor to verify whether the objects are from MH370’s wreckage, any other ship’s wreckage or hard rocks before coming to any conclusion.”
Liow also reportedly said that Malaysia's Petronas, an oil and gas company, will be deploying its "Go Phoenix" vessel, which commonly assists in oil exploration, to help in the hunt for the missing plane on the floor of the southern Indian Ocean.
"Go Phoenix is currently en route to Perth, Australia, and the ship will join Fugro Survey Pty Ltd’s Fugro Discovery, which is a vessel equipped with towed deep-water vehicles in the seabed mapping," Liow was quoted as saying by the New Strait Times. “It is expected to reach Perth on Sept 21 and both vessels will be deployed to the search area in near time.”
According to local reports, the Australia-led search team had said earlier this month that “hard spots” had been discovered on the seabed of the Indian Ocean, but did not reveal details about the findings. However, it reportedly said that the “hard spots” were most likely to be geological features.
The latest search, which is expected to begin this month, will focus on 23,000 square miles of sea floor about 1,000 miles west of Perth, and Dutch contractor Fugro Survey, assisted by Chinese navy vessels, will conduct a detailed underwater mapping of the ocean floor.
Six months after Flight MH370’s disappearance, authorities and aviation experts are still clueless about the whereabouts of the jetliner, making the search one of the most expensive in aviation history.