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Possible witness to MH370 crash: ATSB

SYDNEY--Australia was Wednesday investigating an account from a sailor who said she may have seen Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on fire, as officials said the hunt for the plane could dive much deeper.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search at the request of the Malaysian government, is looking at the claim from a British yachtswoman made this week.

“The ATSB received ... a message from a member of the public, reporting that they had seen what they believed to be a burning aircraft in the sky above the Indian Ocean on the night of the disappearance of MH370,” a spokesman told AFP in an email.

“That information has been forwarded to the ATSB's MH370 Search Strategy Working Group for review.”

Flight MH370, which was en route from Kuala Lumpur to the Chinese capital Beijing when it inexplicably diverted, is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

An extensive search for the plane, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, has so far found nothing, including an intensive underwater hunt with a mini-sub that could dive to 4,500 meters.

The ATSB on Wednesday released a request for tenders for a company to dive even deeper, to depths of up to 6,000 meters (19,800 feet).

It said the successful bidder would be engaged as a prime contractor and provide the expertise, equipment and vessels needed to carry out the search for the Boeing 777 from August.

“The successful tenderer will use the data from a bathymetric survey (already under way) to navigate the search zone, which has water depth between 1,000 and 6,000 meters,” it said.

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