New Flight MH370 Search Area to Be Announced by End of June

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Investigators hunting for the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will announce a new search zone within two weeks, authorities said Wednesday.

The new area in the hunt for the Boeing 777 “will be confirmed before the end of June, after completion of extensive collaborative analysis by a range of specialists,” Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Center said in a statement.

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The previous target area – a 300 square mile corner of the southern Indian Ocean where sonic “pings” thought to possibly be coming from the jet’s black boxes were heard in April – was eliminated earlier this month after an exhaustive air and sea search proved fruitless.

JACC said the new area would still be along the “seventh arc” – the jet’s likely position based on its final hourly transmission, or “handshake,” with a satellite.

Meanwhile, the privately hired vessel Fugro Equator has joined Chinese Navy ship Zhu Kezhen in a joint effort mapping the floor of the ocean ahead of a deep water search that is due to begin in August.

So far, the Zhu Kezhen has surveyed 1,578 square miles of the ocean floor, JACC said. A defect on its multibeam echosounder was repaired at the Australian port of Fremantle, the statement said.

- Alastair Jamieson