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Malaysia Airlines missing plane search to resume in 'hotspot' south of ping area

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In the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane, it has been determined that the next phase in the scouring of the ocean floors will be done hundreds of miles to the south of where the last phase was concentrated. After a bit of confusion earlier in the week as to whether or not search teams had prioritized certain areas correctly, there is no doubt that when the Australian-led international search effort resumes, it will do so far south of the last search zone and beyond the location of the last recorded ping from the Boeing 777's tracking transponder.

The Independent reported June 20 that Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said that an area spanning a 23,000 square-mile search with powerful sonar would be conducted during the next search phase. He said that an announcement would be made next week as to just exactly where the search would take place.

The area to be searched, he stated, would be somewhat south of the area search earlier, an oceanic floor section that authorities chose to concentrate on after an underwater drone detected what was at the time believed to be the acoustic pings of the black boxes of Flight MH370. However, after an exhaustive search, it was determined that no wreckage of the missing plane was in the search zone. In fact, after the first two pings were ruled out as most likely some sort of "noise" that sounded similar to the black box pings, the area search was called off.

The original search data was supplied by British satellite company Inmarsat.

A scientist from the same company caused a bit of a stir earlier in the week when he commented -- in an interview with BBC News -- on a "hotspot" area with a higher probability of containing the missing plane that was basically ignored when investigators decided that the pings could be from the plane and made searching the area from where they were believed to emanate became the higher priority. However, Inmarsat's vice-president for external affairs, Chris McLaughlin, later clarified the scientist's comments, noting that although there was a higher probability that the missing plane continued past the location of the last satellite-detected ping from the Boeing 777 (not the same pinging as from the black boxes but another way to keep track of an airplane), Inmarsat was not the investigative arm of the search, merely the supplier of the data being used in the search for Flight 370. He said that there was no real "hotspot," per se, but that the area of greater probability for the final location of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet was a vast area of Indian Ocean south of the last detected ping.

The search for the missing plane passed the 100 day mark Monday, June 16.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on its way to Beijing, China, on March 8. About halfway across the South China Sea, things still unexplained began to occur. The plane dropped off of tracking radars, all its communications systems seemingly unresponsive, and it was later discovered that the plane had made a U-turn. The next time the plane was detected, it was west of Malaysia (hundreds of miles west of its scheduled flight path). And it was headed south out over the Indian Ocean.

The last known location of Flight 370, according to the data supplied by Inmarsat, was somewhere over the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia.

Not one trace of the missing plane has been found. Last month, Malaysia Airlines and the government of Malaysia announced that all 239 passengers and crewmen aboard Flight MH370 were presumed dead.

Some compensation has been paid to the families of the missing plane already, mostly monies delivered to help offset hotel bills and such while the relatives and spouses waited for word about the plane. Malaysia Airlines announced last week that it would pay £30,000 ($51,036) to the families of passengers that were aboard Flight 370 and would also pay a one-time set amount once the tragedy reached its conclusion.