Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Concerns grow among search officials that missing jet ‘may have landed somewhere else’

More than 80 per cent of the refined search area has now been scoured – uncovering nothing

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The Independent Online

The authorities searching the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 fear that they may need to “regroup” and look at the possibility it came down somewhere else entirely, it has been reported.

The Bluefin 21 submersible vehicle has now scanned more than 80 per cent of the narrowed search area described as the most promising lead in the ongoing recovery effort, but so far not a single piece of physical evidence has been found.

The complete sweep is expected to be finished by the end of Wednesday, leaving the Perth-based search coordination centre under increasing pressure to explain what will happen if there are still no further leads.

According to reports in the New Straits Times, officials are now looking at the prospect of starting the whole search from scratch if they are to get to the bottom of the unprecedented mystery.

Quoting an unnamed official with the investigation team, the newspaper also appears to suggest the possibility that the plane “ landed” somewhere else entirely.

“We may have to regroup soon to look into this possibility if no positive results come back in the next few days ... but at the same time, the search mission in the Indian Ocean must go on,” the source was quoted as saying.

“The thought of it landing somewhere else is not impossible, as we have not found a single debris that could be linked to MH370.

“However, the possibility of a specific country hiding the plane when more than 20 nations are searching for it, seems absurd,” the source added.

Authorities believe the remote stretch of ocean around 2,000km (1,200 miles) northwest of Perth is the most likely resting place for MH370, which went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board, due to data picked up by the Inmarsat communications satellite.

Yet there are now reportedly growing concerns among investigators that they may be searching “in the wrong place”, due to an ongoing reliance on mathematical calculations and lack of physical evidence.

In a statement today, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said: “Bluefin-21 has now completed more than 80 percent of the focused underwater search area and further missions are planned.

“The search will continue. We are currently consulting very closely with our international partners on the best way to affect this for the future.”

Earlier today a tropical cyclone hit the area, forcing officials to suspend the visual search for debris on the surface.

And it has also now emerged that the passengers and crew who were aboard the jet at the time will be issued with death certificates, paving the way for potential lawsuits against the airline.