KUALA LUMPUR: The next 48 hours will be crucial in the underwater search for missing Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 with the search area narrowed, said Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
“It is my understanding that the search effort is entering a critical stage in the next 48 hours.
“Whatever happens in that period, we will then regroup and discuss our next move,” he said at the press conference at Royale Chulan hotel, Saturday.
Hishammuddin also denied claims by certain media that the mapping of the seabed in the search would take six weeks to two months.
“That is not true. It should be completed by next week,” he said.
Australian officials supervising the search said on Saturday that the underwater search for the black box recorder based on “pings” possibly from the device could be completed in five to seven days.
After almost two months without a sign of wreckage, the current underwater search has been narrowed to a circular area with a radius of 10 km around the location in which one of four pings believed to have come from the black box recorders was detected on April 8, officials said.
“Provided the weather is favourable for launch and recovery of the AUV and we have a good run with the serviceability of the AUV, we should complete the search of the focused underwater area in five to seven days,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) told Reuters in an email, Saturday.
Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have landed in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day.
A multinational search was mounted for the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then, after it was learnt that the plane had veered off course, in the southern Indian Ocean.