Flight 370 Search Continues

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US Navy photo

US Navy photo

With still no trace of the 777 more than 10 days after it took off, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has now been missing longer than any other commercial airplane in the modern era. New theories about its disappearance continue to arise -- toxic fumes from the cargo hold, a cyber-hacking crime, a smoldering onboard fire -- to join the prior theories of pilot suicide, piracy or some unspecified mechanical malfunction, but facts are scarce. In recent days, news analysts have begun to speculate that the true story may never be known, or perhaps months or years from now, wreckage will be found on a remote beach somewhere. Questions have arisen about the cost of deploying the search indefinitely across huge stretches of the Indian Ocean, and U.S. officials said a Navy ship that has been searching near the Strait of Malacca will soon be redeployed to other duties.

"This is in no way a degradation of the mission," a defense department official told ABC News. “We're fully committed to the search operation and the fixed-wing aircraft remains and is being shifted to a search area that's more conducive to aerial reconnaissance as opposed to surface searching." If no clear evidence is found soon, however, others say the costly search may have to scale back. "As time goes by, I would say it would become more and more difficult to find the 777, and at some point the cost of the search will reach a point that it will be abandoned and the possibility of it never being found obviously goes way up," Ron Carr, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona, told the Washington Post.