PETALING JAYA: A more powerful piece of sonar equipment is being provided to the Chinese rescue ship Dong Hai Jui 101 which recently joined the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The aircraft, with 239 people on board, vanished while on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in 2014 and is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean off western Australia.

Next week the Chinese ship will take on a side-scan sonar from a US company which says it is more accurate and can create an image of large areas of the sea floor, the Voice of America reported.

The sonar will be towed from Dong Haji Jiu 101 and can provide a “higher degree of resolution,” especially at the outer ranges of sonar, with 24-hour access to instant data and less need for battery replacement.

It is the second time the sonar manufacturer Phoenix International has been involved. The company was first contracted to help in the search three months after the plane disappeared, the report said.

Three other Dutch-registered ships have been contracted for the joint search of the deep ocean floor by Malaysia, Australia and China.

An Australian search report mentions “underwater mountains, crevasses, ridges and 2,000-metre sheer cliffs.” Last month, an underwater sonar device, called a towfish, was lost after it ran into a 2,200-metre-high-mud volcano.

The only confirmed wreckage so far of the MH370 aircraft was a flaperon that washed up on Reunion Island, off Africa, in July last year. Scientists said its discovery was consistent with a crash in the Indian Ocean.

The complete search area covers 120,000 square kilometres off western Australia, of which 45,000 square kilometres remain to be searched. All search efforts are expected to end in June 2016.


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