'MH370 may have turned south earlier than believed'

Australia on Thursday provided a new twist to the mystery surrounding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

By Deepak Nagpal | Last Updated: Aug 28, 2014, 12:41 PM IST
'MH370 may have turned south earlier than believed'
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had gone missing on March 8 this year with 239 people on board.

Canberra: Australia on Thursday provided a new twist to the mystery surrounding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

CNN reported Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss as saying that as per analysis of satellite phone data, it is possible that the flight may have turned south earlier than previously thought.

The Australian Deputy PM added that priority search area for the missing aircraft would now be the southern part of the existing search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.

The detail came to light following "further refinement" of satellite data and as investigators attempted to map the plane`s position during a failed attempt to contact it earlier in its flight path.

"The search area remains the same, but some of the information that we now have suggests to us that areas a little further to the south -- within the search area, but a little further to the south -- are of particular interest and priority in the search area," Truss said.

Truss said that during efforts to map MH370`s location when Malaysia Airlines tried to contact the jet, it was "suggested to us that the aircraft may have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected".

"After MH370 disappeared from the radar, Malaysia Airlines ground staff sought to make contact using a satellite phone. That was unsuccessful," he said.

"But the detailed research that`s being done now has been able to... trace that phone call and help position the aircraft and the direction it was travelling."

The minister said investigators still believed MH370 was somewhere on the search zone`s seventh arc, where it emitted a final satellite "handshake".

"It remains on the seventh arc -- that is, there is a very, very strong view that this aircraft will be resting on the seventh arc," he said.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had gone missing on March 8 this year with 239 people on board.

So far, a multi-nation search effort across various places, including in the vast Indian Ocean, has provided no clue.

On Thursday, Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia to strengthen their collaboration in the search of missing flight MH370, the Malaysian media reported.

The MoU was signed between Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Australian Deputy PM Truss.

"The signing is to further solidify our collaboration and commitment to find the aircraft," Liow said.

Liow today said Malaysia would share with Australia the cost of the latest effort to uncover signs of missing MH370.

He told a news conference in Canberra that the two countries would evenly split the costs of the new search phase, estimated at up to A$52 million ($48.65 million).