KUALA LUMPUR: The oil slick detected on Sunday evening in the southern Indian Ocean is not from the missing Flight MH370, initial analysis has shown.
“Preliminary analysis of the sample collected by Ocean Shield confirmed that it is not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fluid,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement yesterday.
The JACC said the oil sample collected by the Australian defence vessel had arrived in Perth and was subject to detailed testing and analysis.
The centre also said that the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 had completed its first full mission in the search area and was currently preparing for its next one.
“Bluefin-21 has searched approximately 90sq km to date and the data from its latest mission is being analysed,” said JACC.
Meanwhile, US technology-based company Phoenix International, with the assistance of Bluefin-21, has assessed that there was a small but acceptable level of risk in operating the vehicle in depths of more than 4,500m.
The Bluefin-21, scouring the sea bed of the southern Indian Ocean for traces of the missing airliner, was forced to resurface on Wednesday morning to rectify a technical issue before being redeployed.
Its maiden mission on Monday night was cut short when it exceeded its maximum operating depth limit of 4,500m and its built-in safety feature returned it to the surface.
JACC refuted reports that the Bluefin-21 would take between six weeks and two months to scan the entire underwater search area.
“Since the US Navy provided comment some days ago, the underwater search has been significantly narrowed through detailed acoustic analysis conducted on the four signal detections made by the towed pinger locator on Ocean Shield.
“This analysis has allowed the definition of a reduced and more focused underwater search area. This represents the best lead we have.
“The current underwater search efforts are being pursued to their completion so we can either confirm or discount the area as the final resting place of MH370.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal quoted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as saying that the authorities would need to rethink their approach if Bluefin-21 failed to find the wreckage within a week.
“We believe that search will be completed within a week or so. If we don’t find wreckage, we stop, we regroup, we reconsider,” Abbott reportedly said in an interview with the paper.
“If the current search turns up nothing, we won’t abandon it, we will simply move to a different phase.”
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