MH370: search area for missing Malaysia Airlines plane ‘refined’

The Bluefin-21 AUV is craned over the side of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield during the search Photo: Australian Defence Force

Authorities have “significantly narrowed” the area in which the missing Malaysia Airlines plane is believed to have crashed and reprogrammed an unmanned submarine to allow it to dive beneath its standard limit of 14,800 feet.

As Australian prime minister Tony Abbott flagged the need to “reconsider” the operation if it fails to find wreckage within a week, authorities revealed they had refined the search area in the Indian Ocean following further analysis of pings believed to have been emitted by the plane’s black box locator beacon.

Angus Houston, the search coordinator, said recent claims – reportedly by US officials – that the search by the submarine may take six eight to weeks were “incorrect”.

He said the search area had been refined following detailed acoustic analysis of four sets of signals detected by a US pinger locator towed by the Ocean Shield, an Australian navy vessel.

“This analysis has allowed the definition of a reduced and more focused underwater search area,” he said.

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