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Joint Agency Coordination Centre

MH370 Operational Search Update—
23 March 2016

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This operational report has been developed to provide regular updates on the progress of the search effort for MH370. Our work will continue to be thorough and methodical, so sometimes weekly progress may seem slow. Please be assured that work is continuing and is aimed at finding MH370 as quickly as possible.

Key developments this week

  • Fugro Discovery continues to conduct underwater search operations.
  • Fugro Equator departed the search area on 17 March, and is en route to Fremantle for a scheduled resupply visit.
  • Havila Harmony departed the search area on 20 March, and is en route to BAE Henderson.
  • Dong Hai Jiu 101 is en route to Fremantle after an incident on the evening of 21 March in which the failure of a tow cable connector resulted in the loss of the SLH-ProSAS-60 towfish. Recovery options are currently being assessed.
  • Two pieces of debris found in Mozambique and suspected to be from an aircraft, arrived in Australia for examination.
  • A further piece of possible aircraft debris, suspected to be the cowling from an engine, has been found in South Africa. The Malaysian Government is working with South African officials to arrange for examination of the debris.

Analysis of debris from Mozambique

Two pieces of debris found in Mozambique arrived in Canberra, Australia, on 20 March for examination. The examination team includes investigators from Australia and Malaysia, along with specialists from Boeing, Geoscience Australia, and the Australian National University. Procedures appropriate to maintain the integrity of this potential evidence have been followed.

The items have been treated at Geoscience Australia's quarantine-approved facilities. The pieces were visually examined to remove all visible macrofauna and then rinsed, submerged and agitated in water to capture any loose fauna. All water was then passed through a series of sieves with any possible macrofauna retained. The sieved material will then be sorted and possible biological material identified. The items were released from quarantine once they were thoroughly cleaned and all visible signs of possible contamination removed.

Specialists from the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University are assisting with the examination. The items have been x-rayed using an advanced scanning facility developed by the university.

Other technical specialists are conducting an examination which will include seeking to identify specific features that may be consistent with the items coming from an aircraft, and if possible, from MH370.

A statement on the findings will be made once the examination process is complete.

Underwater search operations

Weather may continue to impact on search operations but generally, more favourable conditions are being experienced.

More than 95,000 square kilometres of the seafloor have been searched so far.

In the event the aircraft is found and accessible, Australia, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China have agreed to plans for recovery activities, including securing all the evidence necessary for the accident investigation.

Consistent with the undertaking given by the Governments of Australia, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China in April last year, 120,000 square kilometres will be thoroughly searched. It is anticipated this will be completed around the middle of the year. In the absence of credible new information that leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, Governments have agreed that there will be no further expansion of the search area. 

[Click map to view larger image]

Weather

Favourable weather conditions are forecast for the search area in the coming days.