MH370: Chinese sonar ship to join underwater search

Woman writes messages on an MH370 tribute in Kuala Lumpur (March 2014) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Only one piece of wreckage has been found from the plane

A Chinese sonar ship is joining the search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370, Australia's deputy prime minister has said.

The Dong Hai Jiu 101, currently in Singapore, will leave for Australia on Sunday before heading out to the search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

Warren Truss said China had offered the vessel to Australia last November.

Flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014, with 239 people on board, during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Most of the passengers were Chinese citizens.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Much of the search is focussed on sonar mapping of the sea floor

Based on satellite communications data, the plane is thought to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, but only one piece of debris from the aircraft has ever been found, on the French island of Reunion.

Other pieces of debris that have washed up on various coasts have raised hopes but have ultimately been found not to have come from the missing plane.

Three ships are already searching a 120,000 sq km (46,330 sq miles) area of the ocean floor for the missing plane and officials have said if no trace is found, the search will be called off.

Mr Truss said the Chinese ship would be carrying a 6km towed sonar system to scan the seabed.

He said the ship took the total value of China's contribution to the search to about $14m (£9.7m).

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