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Category Archives: Geospatial

Event: Earth Observation Advisory Committee town meeting 2014

Source – UK Space Agency:

Earth Observation Advisory Committee town meeting 2014
10 Apr 2014

The UK Space Agency and its Earth Observation Advisory Committee are hosting an Earth Observation Town Meeting at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell, Oxfordshire.

Date: Thursday, 8th May 2014
Time: 10:30 – 14:00

The meeting will be an opportunity to hear more about the work of the Agency and the Committee, and to provide your views into discussions on future activities. The morning’s discussions will conclude with a networking lunch.

Disasters Charter: Cyclone Ita in Australia

The Disasters Charter was activated for Cyclone Ita in Australia:

Cyclone Ita in Australia

Type of Event: Ocean Storm (Tropical Cyclone)
Location of Event: Queensland, Australia
Date of Charter Activation: 11 April 2014
Charter Requestor: Geoscience Australia on behalf of Queensland State Disaster Coordination Centre
Project Management: Geoscience Australia

Description of the Event:
Cyclone Ita made landfall on the north coast of Australia on the evening of 11 April 2014. The storm brought powerful winds and heavy rain.

Ita was classified as a Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone, which is on the higher end of the Saffir-Simpson scale, while it was approaching Australia. But the Australian Bureau of Meteorology downgraded the classification to Category 4 when it made landfall, and the storm further weakened as it moved inland. The storm made landfall at Cape Flattery, in the state of Queensland.

The Solomon Islands faced Cyclone Ita late last week, and the then-Category 1 storm caused flooding and killed an estimated 21 people. There were concerns that the storm would cause a great deal of damage in Australia, but no casualties were reported. Thousands of people took shelter or evacuated their homes to avoid the storm, however, and property damage from the cyclone’s strong winds occurred.

Event: Digital Society and Satellite Applications

Digital Society and Satellite Applications will be held on June 12, 2014 in Belfast:

This conference will feature hands-on, successful business cases shared by SMEs who created innovative digital products and services using geospatial services (satellite images, satnav) or satcoms, and by public authorities, museums, educational facilities and others users.

SMEs who can create digital content and services that change the way knowledge is produced, managed, shared and experienced, and public administrations who use these services, are the main drivers of the rapidly-growing digital economy.

Satellite-derived information, geo-location and satcom services are ever cheaper and more readily available, thanks, in part, to European investments in satellite infrastructure. SMEs can use satellite services to create new digital products and services or enhance their existing offer.

U.S. agencies back DigitalGlobe bid to sell sharper images

Source – Reuters:

U.S. agencies back DigitalGlobe bid to sell sharper images
BY WARREN STROBEL AND ANDREA SHALAL
TAMPA/WASHINGTON Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:46pm EDT

(Reuters) – The U.S. intelligence community has thrown its support behind a bid by commercial space imagery providerDigitalGlobe Inc to sell higher resolution images from its satellites, the leading U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday.
DigitalGlobe has pressed the government for years to allow it to sell such imagery but U.S. government agencies worried that giving public access to them could undermine the intelligence advantage they have from even higher resolution satellite images. . . .[Full Story]

European Parliament decision of 3 April 2014 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012 (C7-0319/2013 – 2013/2231(DEC))

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Source – European Parliament:

1.European Parliament decision of 3 April 2014 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012 (C7-0319/2013 – 2013/2231(DEC))

The European Parliament ,

– having regard to the final annual accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012,

– having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012, together with the Agency’s replies(1) ,

– having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 18 February 2014 (05849/2014 – C7-0054/2014),

– having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

– having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(2) , and in particular Article 185 thereof,

– having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(3) , and in particular Article 208 thereof,

– having regard to Regulation (EU) No 912/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 setting up the European GNSS Agency(4) , and in particular Article 14 thereof,

– having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(5) ,

– having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6) , and in particular Article 108 thereof,

– having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0223/2014),

1. Grants the Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency discharge in respect of the implementation of the Authority’s budget for the financial year 2012;

2. Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3. Instructs its President to forward this Decision and the resolution that forms an integral part of it to the Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1) OJ C 365, 13.12.2013, p. 261.
(2) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 276, 20.10.2010,p. 11.
(5) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

2.European Parliament decision of 3 April 2014 on the closure of the accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012 (C7-0319/2013 – 2013/2231(DEC))

The European Parliament ,

– having regard to the final annual accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012,

– having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012, together with the Agency’s replies(1) ,

– having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 18 February 2014 (05849/2014 – C7-0054/2014),

– having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

– having regard to the Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(2) , and in particular Article 185 thereof,

– having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(3) , and in particular Article 208 thereof,

– having regard to Regulation (EU) No 912/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 setting up the European GNSS Agency(4) , and in particular Article 14 thereof,

– having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(5) ,

– having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6) , and in particular Article 108 thereof,

– having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0223/2014),

1. Approves the closure of the accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012;

2. Instructs its President to forward this Decision to the Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

(1) OJ C 365, 13.12.2013, p. 261.
(2) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 276, 20.10.2010,p. 11.
(5) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.

3.European Parliament resolution of 3 April 2014 with observations forming an integral part of its Decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012 (C7-0319/2013 – 2013/2231(DEC))

The European Parliament ,

– having regard to the final annual accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012,

– having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European GNSS Agency for the financial year 2012, together with the Agency’s replies(1) ,

– having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 18 February 2014 (05849/2014 – C7-0054/2014),

– having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

– having regard to the Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(2) , and in particular Article 185 thereof,

– having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(3) , and in particular Article 208 thereof,

– having regard to Regulation (EU) No 912/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 setting up the European GNSS Agency(4) , and in particular Article 14 thereof,

– having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(5) ,

– having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(6) , and in particular Article 108 thereof,

– having regard to its previous discharge decisions and resolutions,

– having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0223/2014),

A. whereas according to its financial statements, the budget of the European GNSS Agency (‘the Agency’) for the financial year 2012 was EUR 20 848 718, representing a decrease of 46,12 % compared to 2011,

B. whereas the Court of Auditors has stated that it has obtained reasonable assurances that the Agency’s annual accounts for the financial year 2012 are reliable and that the underlying transactions are legal and regular,

Budget and financial management

1. Notes that budget monitoring efforts during the financial year 2012 resulted in a budget implementation rate of 100 % and that the payment appropriations execution rate was 99,99 %;

Commitments and carryovers

2. Acknowledges from the Court of Auditors’ report that the overall level of committed appropriations was close to 100 % for all titles;

3. Notes that the carry-over of committed appropriations was relatively high for title II (administrative expenditure) at EUR 1 700 000 (38 %); acknowledges that this was partly due to events beyond the Authority’s control, such as the relocation of its seat to Prague in September 2012 (EUR 400 000) and the setting-up of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (EUR 400 000) which necessitated the provision of certain goods and services in the last quarter of the year; notes, moreover, that several contracts relating to IT and legal services included in the 2013 work programme were signed in December 2012;

Transfers

4. Notes that an amount of EUR 700 000 was transferred from title I (staff expenditure) to title II in November 2012;

Procurement and recruitment procedures

5. Notes with concern that the Court of Auditors identified weaknesses in the recruitment procedures audited which affected transparency and equal treatment, namely the fact that no threshold scores were determined for admission to written tests and interviews or for inclusion in the list of suitable candidates and the fact that the vacancy notices made no provision for appeals by rejected candidates;

6. Notes that the Court, in its annual audit report for 2012, made no comments as regards the Agency’s procurement procedures;

Prevention and management of conflicts of interests and transparency

7. Regrets that the Agency did not answer questionnaire on the management and prevention of conflicts of interests; urges the Agency to report to the discharge authority on the actions it has implemented to become in line with the Court of Auditors’ Special Report No 15/2012 and Parliament’s recommendations that all agencies develop and implement comprehensive independence policies and procedures, inter alia, by establishing a breach of trust mechanism and clear penalties, or by changing those already in place;

8. Observes that the CVs and declarations of interests of the members of the Administrative Board, as well as the declarations of interests of the Executive Director and senior management are not publicly available; calls on the Agency to remedy the situation as a matter of urgency;

Internal audit

9. Acknowledges from the Agency that in 2012, the Commission’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) carried out a risk assessment and a follow-up engagement in accordance with the Strategic Audit Plan of the Agency; notes that there were no open critical or very important recommendations stemming from the previous IAS audit reports; notes, however, that in the course of the risk analysis, the IAS identified certain processes of high inherent risk which could not be considered as auditable within the audit plan as the controls were assessed as absent or insufficient; notes that the Agency’s management submitted an action plan aimed at addressing those weaknesses adequately;

Performance

10. Requests that the Agency communicate the results and impact its work has on European citizens in an accessible way, mainly through its website;

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11. Refers, in respect of the other observations accompanying its Decision on discharge, which are of a horizontal nature, to its resolution of 3 April 2014(7) on the performance, financial management and control of the agencies.

(1) OJ C 365, 13.12.2013, p. 261.
(2) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 276, 20.10.2010,p. 11.
(5) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(6) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA-PROV(2014)0299.

Disasters Charter: Tsunami in Chile

The Disasters Charter was activated for a Tsunami in Chile:

Tsunami in Chile

Type of Event: Ocean Wave (Tsunami)
Location of Event: Chile
Date of Charter Activation: 02 April 2014
Charter Requestor: CONAE on behalf of ONEMI
Project Management:

Description of the Event
An 8.2 magnitude earthquake occurred off the northern coast of Chile at 23:46 UTC (20:46 local time) on 01 April 2014. Chilean authorities issued a tsunami alert and thousands of people have been evacuated from coastal areas.
Following the earthquake waves up to 2.1 m struck areas along the coast, including the cities of Pisagua, Patache and Iquique. The government of Chile recommended that anyone on the coast should evacuate and tens of thousands of people have done so, retreating to higher grounds. Many people have spent the night in hills nearby.

Despite the evacuations, however, five people have been reported killed so far, due to the impact and destruction caused by the waves. Landslides have also occurred and some roads have been blocked by debris in addition to power lines being cut. It has also been reported that 300 prisoners escaped from a prison in Iquique.

Magnitude 8 earthquakes on the Richter scale are at the higher end of the scale, and often cause major damage to affected areas. Chile is located in the “Ring of Fire”, an area of the Pacific Ocean basin that is seismologically active. This causes Chile to be prone to earthquakes and another powerful earthquake struck off the coat of Chile in 2010, resulting in devastation.

The tsunami warning was expected to last until 08:00 UTC on 02 April, and assessments of the damage and recovery will commence once the threat has passed.

Disasters Charter: Flood in the Solomon Islands

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The Disasters Charter has been activated for a Flood in the Solomon Islands:

Flood in the Solomon Islands

Type of Event: Flood
Location of Event: Honiara – Solomon Islands
Date of Charter Activation: 05 April 2014
Charter Requestor: UNITAR/UNOSAT on behalf of UNOCHA
Project Management: UNITAR/UNOSAT

Description of the Event
Days of heavy rainfall have caused flash flooding in the Solomon Islands, inundating the capital city of Honiara and displacing thousands of people. An estimated 19 people have been killed and almost 30 are still missing.
The flooding began on 03 April 2014 when the rainfall caused rivers across the main island of Guadalcanal to burst their banks. The floodwaters from the River Matanikau left many areas of Honiara underwater and reportedly destroyed thousands of homes along the rivers. The flooding has also damaged or destroyed bridges along the rivers and cut off or damaged roads.

The river levels rose much faster than anticipated, giving people little time to evacuate. The storm that caused the rain later developed into a Category 1 Tropical Cyclone, Ita, which moved away from the Solomon Islands over the weekend.

A state of emergency has been declared, and it is estimated that as many as 12,000 people could be affected in Honiara. While the storm weakened and water levels began to subside on 05 February, the long process of recovery and rebuilding is underway.

FACT SHEET: The Administration’s Proposal for Ending the Section 215 Bulk Telephony Metadata Program

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Source – The White House (see also the President’s Statement):

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 27, 2014
FACT SHEET: The Administration’s Proposal for Ending the Section 215 Bulk Telephony Metadata Program

On January 17, 2014, President Obama gave a speech at the Department of Justice on his Administration’s review of certain intelligence activities. During this speech, he ordered a transition that would end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it previously existed and establish a new mechanism to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata. The President made clear that he was ordering this transition to give the public greater confidence that their privacy is appropriately protected, while maintaining the tools our intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to keep us safe. This fact sheet describes the steps the Administration has taken to implement this transition, details the President’s proposal for a new program to replace the Section 215 program, and outlines the steps the Administration will be taking in the near future to realize the President’s vision.

Ending the Section 215 Bulk Telephony Metadata Program as it Existed

On January 17, 2014, the President directed the first step in the transition of the Section 215 program; that the Department of Justice (DOJ) to seek to modify the program to ensure that:

Absent an emergency situation, the government can query the telephony metadata collected pursuant to the program only after a judge approves the use of specific numbers for such queries based on national security concerns; and
The results of any query are limited to metadata within two hops of the selection term being used, instead of three.
On February 5, 2014, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approved the government’s request to modify the program.

The President’s Proposal to Replace the Section 215 Program

For the second step in the transition, the President instructed the Attorney General and the Intelligence Community (IC) to develop options for a new program that could match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 metadata program was designed to address without the government holding the bulk telephony metadata records. The President further instructed the Attorney General and the IC to report back to him with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization by the FISC on March 28th.

Consistent with this directive, DOJ and the IC developed options designed to meet the criteria the President laid out in his speech — to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this metadata. The Administration has also consulted with Congress, the private sector, privacy and civil liberties groups, and other interested groups.

On the basis of these consultations, and after having carefully considered the available options, the President has decided on a proposal that will, with the passage of appropriate legislation, allow the government to end bulk collection of telephony metadata records under Section 215, while ensuring that the government has access to the information it needs to meet its national security requirements. Under the President’s proposal, a new program would be created with the following key attributes:

the government will not collect these telephone records in bulk; rather, the records would remain at the telephone companies for the length of time they currently do today;
absent an emergency situation, the government would obtain the records only pursuant to individual orders from the FISC approving the use of specific numbers for such queries, if a judge agrees based on national security concerns;
the records provided to the government in response to queries would only be within two hops of the selection term being used, and the government’s handling of any records it acquires will be governed by minimization procedures approved by the FISC;
the court-approved numbers could be used to query the data over a limited period of time without returning to the FISC for approval, and the production of records would be ongoing and prospective; and
the companies would be compelled by court order to provide technical assistance to ensure that the records can be queried and that results are transmitted to the government in a usable format and in a timely manner.
The President believes that this approach will best ensure that we have the information we need to meet our intelligence requirements while enhancing public confidence in the manner in which this information is collected and held.

The Path Forward

Legislation will be needed to implement the President’s proposal. The Administration has been in consultation with congressional leadership and members of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on this important issue throughout the last year, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals the President has put forward. Given that this legislation will not be in place by March 28 and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities in question, the President has directed DOJ to seek from the FISC a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program, which includes the substantial modifications in effect since February.

European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 March 2014 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Copernicus Programme and repealing Regulation (EU) No 911/2010 (COM(2013)0312 – C7-0195/2013 – 2013/0164(COD)) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

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Source – EU Parliament:

European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 March 2014 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Copernicus Programme and repealing Regulation (EU) No 911/2010 (COM(2013)0312 – C7-0195/2013 – 2013/0164(COD)) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament ,

– having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0312),

– having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 189(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0195/2013),

– having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

– having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 16 October 2013(1) ,

– after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

– having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 20 December 2013 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

– having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0027/2014),

1. Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;

2. Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ C 67, 6.3.2014, p. 88.

. . .

Disasters Charter: Missing Malaysia Airlines jet

The Disasters charter has been activated for Missing Malaysia Airlines jet:

Missing Malaysia Airlines jet

Type of Event: Other – Missing aircraft
Location of Event: South China Sea
Date of Charter Activation: 11 March 2014
Charter Requestor: China Meteorological Administration
Project Management: China Meteorological Administration

Description of the Event
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared from radar on 07 March 2014. The jet was carrying 239 people (12 crew and 227 passengers) and has yet to be found despite a multi-national search.
The aircraft departed from Kuala Lumpur at 16:41 UTC and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 22:30, but Vietnamese air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft at 17:30 (01:30 local time).
An international search began for the aircraft in the South China Sea, the last known location of the jet, but four days later no sign of the aircraft had been found. The search area has since been expanded to the Malacca Strait, on the western coast of Malaysia. And on 15 March the search shifted to as far as the Indian Ocean.
There has been much speculation regarding the fate of the aircraft. No debris has been found and though several oil slicks have been investigated it was determined that they were not from the aircraft. Two passengers aboard the jet were under suspicion, following an investigation that revealed that they were using stolen passports, but Interpol has since dismissed any terrorist connections for the two passengers.
No distress signals have been received from the plane and it remains unknown what happened. It has been noted by investigators that it is very unusual for an airliner to simply disappear in such a manner.
Both naval vessels and aircraft from at least ten different countries are participating in the search. Satellite imagery is now being employed to search for any evidence of the plane, both before and after it disappeared. China is utilising ten of its satellites to image the search area. The United States imaging corporation, DigitalGlobe, has started a crowdsourcing campaign in which over two million volunteers have studied DigitalGlobe images of the area.
More than 20 countries are participating in the search and the latest reports indicate that the plane turned back after take-off and passed over Malaysia and then headed north-west. Evidence suggests the plane flew for several hours after communication with air traffic controllers was lost.
As of 17 March 2014, the search remains ongoing.