Time limit on jet search

Authorities have allowed less than a year for a new phase of the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 off WA.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau yesterday called for contractors to carry out the search, which will cover up to 60,000sqkm and must be completed in 300 days.

The "critical" requirements include being able to identify the plane, map and photograph the wreckage if it is found. The contractors will start within a month of signing once tenders close on June 30. The tender documents show authorities were still trying to pinpoint an area for the search.

Curtin University Marine Science and Technology Centre yesterday said its researchers had detected underwater sounds off WA on the day the plane vanished, which could narrow the search.

The university recorders picked up the noises underwater off Rottnest at 1.30am GMT on March 8 - consistent with the time of the last satellite ping from the plane.

But senior research fellow Alec Duncan said the sounds were more likely to be from an earth tremor.

The West Australian

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