THE desperate search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board – including four Queenslanders and a couple from Sydney – now collectively covers an area larger than the entire Australian continent.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday evening, acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the search area now spans 7.7 million square kilometres – Australia’s landmass is around 7.6 million square kilometres.
As the search enters its 12th day, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) yesterday identified a new search area more than 600,000 square kilometres in size in the southern Indian Ocean, more than 3000km southwest of Perth.
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AMSA Emergency Response Division General Manager John Young told reporters the search was like looking for “a needle in a haystack”.
He said the passage of time and movement of the water in the world’s third-deepest ocean would make it constantly difficult.
A further three Australian Orion aircraft will today join the AP-3C already sweeping the search area. They will be joined by a New Zealand Orion and a US Poseidon aircraft.
Planes will be searching for any signs of floating debris, including several tons of mangosteens, a purple tropical fruit believed to have been on board the passenger jet at the time it disappeared on Saturday, March 8.
An unprecedented twenty-six countries are now involved in the mammoth search.