AUSTRALIA – As the sun rises over the southern Indian Ocean the search resumes for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 with possible objects discovered in the water deemed the “best lead” yet.
Four aircraft were tasked by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to focus on a 23,000 square kilometre area about 2500 kilometres southwest of Perth.
The search planes set set off from Perth at 4am local time (7am AEDT) and it is expected they will take four hours to reach the search area.
They are investigating satellite data imagery which identified two objects possibly related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.
The first day of the search found nothing conclusive, but the effort will be bolstered by the arrival last night of the Norwegian car carrier, Hoegh St. Petersburg.
Another merchant ship is en route to the area, as is HMAS Success, a Royal Australian Navy ship.
The images were captured on March 16 but due to the volume of imagery being searched, and the detailed process of analysis that followed, the information was brought to the attention of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on Thursday morning.
One of the objects was 24 metres in length and the other was 5 metres.
The images have been assessed as being credible but it is possible they do not relate to the search. (read more)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – A freighter used searchlights early Friday to scan rough seas in one of the remotest places on Earth after satellite images detected possible pieces from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the southern Indian Ocean.
In what officials called the “best lead” of the nearly two-week-old aviation mystery, a satellite detected two objects floating about 1,000 miles off the coast of Australia and halfway to the desolate islands of the Antarctic.
The development raised new hope of finding the vanished jet and sent another emotional jolt to the families of the 239 people aboard.
But Australian authorities said in a statement early Friday that the search had turned up nothing so far.
One of the objects on the satellite image was 24 meters (almost 80 feet) long and the other was 5 meters (15 feet). There could be other objects in the area, a four-hour flight from southwestern Australia, said John Young, manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s emergency response division.
“This is a lead, it’s probably the best lead we have right now,” Young said. He cautioned that the objects could be seaborne debris along a shipping route where containers can fall off cargo vessels, although the larger object is longer than a container.
Four military planes searched the area Thursday without success and planned to resume Friday morning, Australian officials said.
The Norwegian cargo vessel Hoegh St. Petersburg, with a Filipino crew of 20, arrived in the area and used searchlights after dark to look for debris. It will continue the search Friday, said Ingar Skiaker of Hoegh Autoliners, speaking to reporters in Oslo.
The Norwegian ship, which transports cars, was on its way from South Africa to Australia, he said. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said another commercial ship and an Australian navy vessel were also en route to the search area.
Satellite imagery experts said the lead is worth investigating.
“It would be very nice if you could see a whole wing floating there, then you could say, ‘OK that’s an airplane.’ When you’re looking at something like this you can’t tell what it is,” said Sean O’Connor, an imagery analyst with IHS Janes.
But another analyst said the debris is most likely not pieces of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. There have been several false leads since the Boeing 777 disappeared March 8 above the Gulf of Thailand en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
“The chances of it being debris from the airplane are probably small, and the chances of it being debris from other shipping are probably large,” said Jason Middleton, an aviation professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. (read more)