Canberra, Aug 6 IANS | 3 months ago

Australia has appointed Dutch firm Fugro to renew the search operation for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre for plane search said Wednesday.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, in a statement, said Fugro Survey would use two vessels, equipped with towed deep water vehicles and carrying expert personnel, to undertake the search operations, Xinhua reported.

The announcement was made jointly by Australia, Malaysia and China, the statement said.

The vessels will search the sea floor using side scan sonar, multi-beam echo sounders and video cameras to locate and identify the aircraft debris.

The underwater search of the 60,000 square km area is still expected to take up to 12 months to complete.

In June, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has contracted the company to make deep water survey in a defined search area of the south-west Indian Ocean.

Assets are already mobilising with Fugro Discovery en route to Perth from Britain.

Fugro Equator, the company's survey ship, currently acquiring bathymetry data in the search area, will be the second search vessel in the deep water search and will be mobilised when the bathymetry work is completed in mid-September.

It is the second contract that Fugro has won from the Australian government in relation to the search of MH370, which vanished March 8 on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 passengers and crew.

The Malaysian government has committed to support the joint search effort with four vessels.

Two vessels equipped with side scan sonar and remotely operated vehicles will be integrated into the overall capability for the underwater search being led by the ATSB.

Malaysian naval vessel, Bunga Mas, will continue to support the search, as it has since April, the statement said.

The Chinese vessel, the Zhu Kezhen, continues to work in the southern Indian Ocean, surveying the sea floor and has committed to continue search till September.

(Posted on 06-08-2014)

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