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Australia: MH370 may have turned south earlier than previously thought

Australia: MH370 may have turned south earlier than previously thought
8/28/2014 6:52:17 AM

MH370 vanished with 239 people on board during a flight that was meant to go from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. Months of searching have so far turned up no debris from the plane.

Investigators have relied on information from radar and satellites to try to plot the Boeing 777's course, concluding that it went down in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, far off Australia's west coast.

After reviewing all the available data on Flight 370's last movements, international experts are sticking to the same vast search zone announced in June, Truss said at the news conference Thursday.

But some of the information the analysts now have suggests that areas a little to the south may be of "particular interest," he said.

Uncertainty over location of turn

Flight 370 was last detected by radar flying northwest over the sea between Peninsular Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

A series of subsequent communications between satellite systems and the errant plane -- known as "handshakes" -- determined that at some point MH370 turned south toward the southern Indian Ocean.

It was initially assumed that the southern turn took place at the northwestern tip of Sumatra. But the team of experts has since said there's no conclusive evidence about where the turn to the south took place.

To calculate the current search area, they said they took two approaches to the uncertainty surrounding the turn. They analyzed the satellite data using a range of assumed locations for the turn, and also without any assumption for where the turn took place.

The final radar detection of MH370, by the Malaysian military, occurred nearly an hour after the plane had veered off its planned course. Three minutes later, a satellite handshake indicated that the plane was still traveling northwest.

The unanswered phone call took place fourteen minutes after the handshake, according to information previously released by Australian authorities. Just over an hour later, a second handshake suggested that plane had turned and was heading south or southeast.

It's unclear from Truss' comments Thursday how much more clarity the analysts now have on the timing and location of the turn.

The crucial question of why the aircraft flew so far off course also remains unanswered.

Undersea volcanoes

The search for the remains of the plane and the people on board remains focused on a 60,000-square-kilometer area, roughly the size of West Virginia, in the southern Indian Ocean.

Three ships are expected to begin an underwater search in the area next month, using a range of sophisticated sonar equipment. The process is expected to take about 12 months, Truss said.

Officials hope as much searching as possible can be done in the next few months before weather conditions are likely to deteriorate, he said.

Ships have already been mapping the undersea terrain in the isolated swath of ocean to help the searchers. Much of the geography of the area was previously unknown before MH370's disappearance drew attention there.

The mapping process has revealed dramatic new challenges for the search teams.

The "remarkable geographic features" discovered by the surveying include at least two volcanoes and an area where the seafloor drops away from a depth of 600 meters (1,970 feet) to 6,600 meters (21,653 feet) over a short distance, Truss said.

"It would not be safe to put the towed sonar equipment into the water if we didn't have this kind of information about the seabed," he said.

Cost of search to be shared

Truss spoke after meeting with the Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai and Chinese Vice Transport Minister He Jianzhong.

Liow said at the news conference that Malaysia's financial contributions to the search will match Australia's commitment.

Australia has estimated a yearlong underwater search will cost $48 million.

Ready to talk J-K within bilateral framework: Ind to Pak

Ready to talk J-K within bilateral framework: Ind to Pak
8/28/2014 7:45:11 PM

India today made it clear that it was willing to discuss the issue of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan within the framework of bilateral agreements of Simla pact and Lahore Declaration.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin was reacting to Pakistan

government's remarks that the Indo- Pak dialogue without discussions on Kashmir was "unacceptable".

"As regards engagement with Pakistan, we have made it very clear that we will engage in the framework of Simla agreement and Lahore Declaration and both these provide for discussing all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. Our view is very clear, a bilateral framework to discuss all outstanding issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

He was asked about the comments by Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz, who has said that Islamabad offered talks to New Delhi in "good faith," but holding a dialogue without addressing the Kashmir issue was unacceptable to Pakistan.

Aziz was also quoted as saying that Pakistani officials have met with leaders from the Indian portion of Kashmir in the past and New Delhi had not objected until now.

India had called off the talks between Foreign Secretaries slated for August 25, telling Pakistan bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists.

India also objected to Pakistan terming the Kashmiri separatists as "stakeholders" in the resolution of Kashmir issue saying that, as per Simla Agreement, it was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and any other approach will "not yield results".

Asked about the BSF chief's remarks that India has witnessed heaviest ceasefire violations along the International Border since 1971 war, he merely said Indian forces are best equipped to respond to such incidents.