A robotic mini-submarine deployed to find the Malaysia Airlines plane today completed its 14th mission with still no sign of wreckage, even as the planned air and surface search was suspended due to inclement weather.
Autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin 21, a US Navy probe equipped with side-scan sonar, has focused the search on an area in the southern Indian Ocean where four acoustic signals were detected that led authorities to believe that the plane's black box may be located there.
Bluefin-21, which is scouring the ocean floor for traces of the plane, has completed mission 14 and is expected to commence mission 15 this morning, the Perth-based Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JAAC) said in a statement, as the search entered into the 51nd day. The underwater vessel has slowly scoured 95 per cent of the ocean floor that searchers had narrowed down for it. So far, it has found no trace of the missing flight MH370. "No contacts of interest have been found to date," the statement said, adding that "Bluefin-21 is expected to complete the focused underwater search area and continue examining the areas adjacent to it during mission 15." "Due to deteriorating weather conditions, the planned air and surface search has been suspended for today," it said.
The Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 - carrying 239 people, including five Indians, an Indo-Canadian and 154 Chinese nationals - had mysteriously vanished on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. The mystery of the missing plane continued to baffle aviation and security authorities who have so far not succeeded in tracking the aircraft despite deploying hi-tech radar and other gadgets.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama, who flew into Malaysia on his three-day visit, promised fresh support to Malaysia in tracking down the plane. A day before his arrival, he told a Malaysian newspaper, The Star, that the US remains committed to the search. "The United States was one of the first countries to join in the search for the missing plane," he said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said a preliminary report on the plane's disappearance will be available to the public next week. He also asked an internal investigation team to look into what other information may be released publicly next week, his office said.