- (Photo: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON)
A Malaysia Airlines plane bound for India was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its tires burst on take-off Monday even as an unmanned submarine hunting for the missing flight MH370 covered two-thirds of the targeted underwater search with no trace of wreckage.
Flight MH192 experienced a burst tire as it took off Sunday night, and circled over Malaysia for about four hours to burn fuel before landing safely back at the Kuala Lumpur airport early Monday, New Strait Times reported.
All 159 passengers and seven crew members are safe.
Meanwhile, the underwater search for the missing flight MH370 resumed Monday after having covered two-thirds of the targeted area in the Indian Ocean with no breakthrough. The search has now narrowed to a 6.2-square-mile patch of sea floor, about 2,000 km (1,200 miles) west of the Australian city of Perth, with likely obstacles due to a tropical cyclone, according to Reuters.
The focus of the search is on the area where a series of pings believed to be from the plane's black box were detected about two weeks ago.
The U.S. Navy's Bluefin 21 began its ninth trip Monday below the surface to scan the seabed, journeying beyond its recommended depth of 2.8 miles.
"Bluefin-21 has searched approximately two-thirds of the focused underwater search area to date. No contacts of interest have been found to date," the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement. "Widespread showers are developing with isolated thunderstorms to the north and east south-easterly winds."
Additionally, about 10 military aircraft and 11 ships began combing a 19,000-square-mile area Monday in search of debris.
However, it was feared that Tropical Cyclone Jack swirling over the ocean could bring increasing rain and winds to the northern section of the search zone later Monday, hampering search efforts.
Flight MH370 took off at 12:40 a.m. on March 8 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing, with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board, including the captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid. The flight lost contact with air traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.
The plane was carrying people from 14 countries and territories; most were from China.
About a week ago, investigative sources said the co-pilot of the plane tried to make a "desperate call" with his mobile phone after the jetliner was diverted from its scheduled route.
The plane was flying about 200 nautical miles northwest of the west coast state of Penang on March 8, at an altitude low enough for the nearest telecommunications tower to pick up signal from co-pilot Hamid's phone, according to New Straits Times.
However, the call ended abruptly. "The telco's (telecommunications company) tower established the call that he was trying to make. On why the call was cut off, it was likely because the aircraft was fast moving away from the tower and had not come under the coverage of the next one," the sources were quoted as saying.
Investigators have said someone with detailed knowledge of the plane turned off its communications systems before diverting it off its scheduled course.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian government said Sunday it will issue death certificates for passengers of Flight MH370 and provide financial assistance to families.