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Flight MH370 Investigators Map 16,000 Square Miles of Sea Floor

Investigators said they have mapped two-thirds of an area the size of West Virginia where they think the Boeing 777's wreckage might be.

Investigators searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 said Thursday they have mapped two-thirds of the sea floor in a "high priority area" of ocean where the plane likely crashed. No trace of the Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers and crew has been found since it vanished after leaving Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing on March 8. Experts failed to locate signals from the plane's black boxes before the devices' batteries ran out. They have now turned to a bathymetric survey and are mapping a huge area of sea floor using sonar to look for the wreckage. Searching the mapped area could take up to a year.

Authorities have narrowed down the search to a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean of just over 23,000 square miles – around the size of West Virginia. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said Thursday it had "analyzed and mapped" almost 16,000 square miles of this region along the so-called "7th arc," a line on which the plane is believed to have run out of fuel based on satellite data. The mapped area is almost twice the size of New Jersey. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Australian media on Wednesday there was still a "reasonable chance" of finding the jet.


- Alexander Smith