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Computer animation of Indian Ocean floor assists search for Flight MH370

Australian officials say it is necessary to map the topographical features of the bottom of the Indian Ocean in order to find the missing Malaysian airliner.

By Fred Lambert

SYDNEY, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Australian officials have released computer-animated video depicting topography at the bottom of the Indian Ocean as the search for a missing Malaysian airliner continues.

Since March when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared mid-flight, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has assumed responsibilities in the search for the airliner at the request of the Malaysian government.

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The video shows a scan of varying topographical features on the ocean floor where the search is being conducted, with different elevations emphasized in multiple colors. Since May crews took four months to map 23,000 square miles of seabed off Australia's west coast before resuming the search. The ATSB noted the necessity of mapping the sea floor in order to conduct an underwater search.

Flight MH370 was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it went missing on March 8. Satellite data suggest it went into the Indian Ocean over a thousand miles west of Perth, Australia. Based on transmissions between the flight and satellites, investigators believe it ran out of fuel, though the exact cause of the crash has remained a mystery.

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