New Scourge of Search for Missing Flight: a Cyclone

As Bluefin-21 finishes two-thirds of search, without success
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2014 6:26 AM CDT
Updated Apr 21, 2014 7:47 AM CDT
In a Monday, April 14, 2014 photo provided by the US Navy, operators aboard the Australian defense vessel Ocean Shield move the US Navy's Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle into position for deployment.   (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, MC1 Peter D. Blair)

(Newser) – It's another quiet day in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, beyond the news that as of today the underwater drone on the hunt for its wreckage has now finished two-thirds of its mission without detecting so much as a hint of the jet. NBC News reports that the Bluefin-21 has been tasked with searching a 6-mile radius centered around the location of pings identified on April 8, and set out on its ninth outing in that area today.

Officials have pinpointed that area as the plane's likeliest resting place, and the Bluefin could finish scoping it out as soon as Wednesday. What comes next if that search proves fruitless? The Joint Agency Coordination Centre tells the Wall Street Journal no decision has been made "about a transition to the next phase." Whatever choices the agency makes this week, it may have a new factor to consider: a cyclone. Tropical Cyclone Jack is approaching the search area, where "widespread showers are developing with isolated thunderstorms." Reuters notes that the search has been largely immune to weather issues thus far.

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