Australia debris 'best lead' so far in plane search

2014-03-20 09:04
A Royal Australian Air Force pilot flies his AP-3C Orion over the Southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Two objects possibly related to the search have been found. (Sgt Hamish Paterson, Australian Defenc

A Royal Australian Air Force pilot flies his AP-3C Orion over the Southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Two objects possibly related to the search have been found. (Sgt Hamish Paterson, Australian Defenc

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kuala Lumpur - Four military search planes were dispatched on Thursday to try to determine whether two large objects bobbing in a remote part of the Indian Ocean were part of a possible debris field of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

One of the objects spotted by satellite imagery had a dimension of 25 metres and the other one was smaller. There could be other objects in waters nearby in the area that's a four-hour flight from Australia's southwestern coast, said John Young, manager of Australian Maritime Safety Authority's emergency response division.

"This is a lead, it's probably the best lead we have right now," said Young, while cautioning that the objects could also be seaborne debris along a key shipping route where containers periodically fall off cargo vessels.

Young told a news conference in Canberra, Australia's capital, that planes had been sent to the area about 2 500km southwest of Perth to check on the objects. He said that satellite images "do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, so we will hold our views on that until they are sighted close-up."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had earlier told Parliament about the debris, and said Orion search aircraft were expected to arrive in the area on Thursday afternoon.

Poor visibility

Young said visibility was poor and may hamper efforts to find the objects. He said they "are relatively indistinct on the imagery ... but those who are experts indicate they are credible sightings. The indication to me is of objects that are a reasonable size and probably awash with water, moving up and down over the surface."

Military planes from Australia, the US and New Zealand have been covering a search region over the southern Indian Ocean that was narrowed down from 600 000 square kilometres to 305 000 square kilometres.

The hunt for the Boeing 777 has been punctuated by several false leads since it disappeared on 8 March above the Gulf of Thailand.

Oil slicks that were spotted did not contain jet fuel. A yellow object thought to be from the plane turned out to be a piece of sea trash. Chinese satellite images showed possible plane debris, but nothing was found.

But this is the first time that possible objects have been spotted since the search area was massively expanded into two corridors, one stretching from northern Thailand into Central Asia and the other from the Strait of Malacca down to southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Abbott said he spoke to the prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, about the latest developments. Australia's envoy to Malaysia, Rod Smith, joined a meeting of senior Malaysia search officials at a Kuala Lumpur hotel after Abbott's announcement. Smith did not respond to reporters' questions.

"As I've been doing from day one, I've followed every single lead. And this time, I hope it is a positive development," Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.

FBI assisting

The FBI has also joined forces with Malaysian authorities in analysing deleted data on a flight simulator belonging to the pilot of the missing jet.

Files containing records of flight simulations were deleted on 3 February from the device found in the home of the pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu said.

It was not clear whether investigators thought that deleting the files was unusual. They might hold hints of unusual flight paths that could help explain where the missing plane went, or the files could have been deleted simply to clear memory for other material.

Hishammuddin told a news conference on Wednesday that Zaharie is considered innocent until proven guilty. He said members of the pilot's family are co-operating in the investigation.

Zaharie was known to some within the online world of flight simulation enthusiasts.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorised to discuss the ongoing investigation by name, said the FBI has been asked to analyse the deleted simulator files.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said in Washington that the FBI was working with Malaysian authorities. "At this point, I don't think we have any theories," he said.

Flight 370 disappeared on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Malaysian authorities have not ruled out any possible explanation, but have said the evidence so far suggests the flight was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca, with its communications systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next.

Investigators have identified two giant arcs of territory spanning the possible positions of the plane about seven-and-a-half hours after takeoff, based on its last faint signal to a satellite - an hourly "handshake" signal that continues even when communications are switched off. The arcs stretch up as far as Kazakhstan in central Asia and down deep into the southern Indian Ocean.

Police are considering the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board, and have asked for background checks from abroad on all foreign passengers.


- AP
Read more on:    australia  |  malaysia  |  malaysia airlines flight mh370  |  aviation
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 

6 life hacks you simply have to know

A few simple tricks can make your life so much easier!

 
 

For chic geeks...

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose
It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

MS SQL DBA

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
GT Recruitment
R25 000 - R38 000 Per Month

Sales Advisors

Somerset West
Helderberg Personnel cc
R7 000 Per Month

Financial Advisor / Sales Rep

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Persona Staff

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may take extra pride in your work today. You have a need to shine and be respected so you may put the extra effort and TLC...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.