The underwater search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 using sonar has covered an area five times the size of Lake Tahoe without finding any sign of the missing Boeing 777, officials said Wednesday. More than 1,000 square miles of the seafloor have been scoured by two vessels in the southern Indian Ocean, the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau said in an update to its webpage tracking the operation. The sonar search for the wreckage follows the completion of a painstaking bathymetric survey 58,000 square miles of ocean floor — larger than the state of Illinois. The completed search covers just a tiny fraction of the area where investigators believe the aircraft may be.
The ATSB said conditions for investigators were expected to improve in the coming months as the Southern Hemisphere search zone enjoys summer weather until May. It also noted that authorities in Indonesia were put on alert in August for possible debris from the aircraft, which is thought to have crashed after going off-course while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people on board. The ATSB “continues to receive messages from members of the public who have found material washed up on the Australian coastline,” it said, but not a single piece of confirmed debris has so far been found. Expert modelling suggests any floating debris would more likely have drifted west, away from Australia.