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Malaysia jet search area too deep for submarine

The Bluefin 21 autonomous sub is hoisted back on board the Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield after successful buoyancy testing April 1 in the Indian Ocean, as search efforts continue for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Search crews will send the sub deep into the Indian Ocean on Monday for the first time to try to determine whether signals detected by sound-locating equipment are from the missing Malaysian plane's black boxes, the Australian head of the search said. Angus Houston said the crew on board the Ocean Shield will launch the underwater vehicle sometime Monday evening.  (AP file photo)
The Bluefin 21 autonomous sub is hoisted back on board the Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield after successful buoyancy testing April 1 in the Indian Ocean, as search efforts continue for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Search crews will send the sub deep into the Indian Ocean on Monday for the first time to try to determine whether signals detected by sound-locating equipment are from the missing Malaysian plane's black boxes, the Australian head of the search said. Angus Houston said the crew on board the Ocean Shield will launch the underwater vehicle sometime Monday evening. (AP file photo)

PERTH, Australia – The search area for the missing Malaysian jet has proved too deep for a robotic submarine which was hauled back to the surface of the Indian Ocean less than half way through its first seabed hunt for wreckage and the all-important black boxes, authorities said on Tuesday.

Search crews sent the Bluefin 21 deep into the Indian Ocean on Monday to begin scouring the seabed for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 after failing for six days to detect any signals believed to be from its black boxes.

But after only six hours of its planned 16-hour mission on the sea bed, the autonomous underwater vehicle exceeded its maximum depth limit of 15,000 feet and its built-in safety feature returned it to the surface, the search coordination center said in a statement today.

What if anything it might have discovered during the six-hour search was still being analyzed, it added.

The Bluefin 21 will resume the search today when weather conditions permit, it said.

– Wire report

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