MH370: Search for wreckage 'worst nightmare', says academic

MH370: Search for wreckage 'worst nightmare', says academic
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said gale force winds, heavy rain and low cloud meant planes could not fly safely, and heavy seas meant an Australian navy ship was leaving the area where possible debris had been sighted on Monday.

JOHOR BARU - The search for the wreckage of MH370 in the Indian Ocean has been described as the "worst nightmare" for any rescue operation.

University Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) professor for hydrography and ocean mapping Prof Dr Mohd Razali Mahmud said the region was not only isolated, but also has high waves, swift under currents and strong winds.

"Some of the waves can be as high as five metres, and this will be a huge challenge for any salvage operation," Dr Mohd, who is from the Faculty of Geo-Information and Real Estate said on Tuesday.

He added even commercial vessels avoided using this route due to the challenges and dangers.

Dr Mohd said that the most important thing to do now was to narrow the search area to locate the wreckage or the black box, which holds the key to solving this mystery.

He added that it was important for search vessels to be equipped with a multi-beam sonar system to scan the ocean bed to locate the wreckage.

"I just hope that the wreckage is lying on a flat area as a search operation becomes complicated if it (wreckage) is lodged in a ravine or a mountainous area," he said, adding that the topography of an ocean was similar to how it is on land with ravines and mountains.

Dr Mohd said that remote operating vehicles (ROV) or Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) could be deployed to carry out salvage works once the wreckage was discovered as these depths of 4,000m to 7,000m were too deep for any diver.

He added that the government could get the assistance of companies involved in the oil and gas sector or off-shore survey companies, which have such equipment, to lay cables or even for drilling activities in the ocean.

Asked if Malaysia had capabilities to carry out a search in the area, Dr Mohd, who has been studying oceans for 20 years, said that the Malaysian navy's multi-beam sonar was only able to search in areas of about 1,000m.

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