Saturday, March 29, 2014

Flight MH370: Chinese and Australian ships draw blank

BBC News online -- 29 March 2014
Footage shows the moment Chinese searchers spotted new debris on Saturday, as Andy Moore explains
A Chinese and an Australian ship have failed to identify remains from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight after their first day in a new search area.

The two ships retrieved objects from the Indian Ocean but none was confirmed to be from missing flight MH370, Australia's maritime authority said.

Chinese aircraft also flew over the area, north-east of the previous zone, and have spotted more objects.

The airliner disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board.

Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 and Australia's HMAS Success "reported they have retrieved a number of objects from the ocean but so far no objects confirmed to be related to MH370 have been recovered", the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said late on Saturday.

The BBC's Jon Donnison spent Friday with Australian air crews looking for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370,

Eight aircraft also took part in the operation. One Chinese plane reported spotting spotted three orange, white and red objects floating in the sea.

Some of the objects seen in the area have been very small, and officials cautioned that they may be sea junk.

Amsa said that "at least one distinctive fishing object has been identified".
  • Satellite images so far could show anything from lost shipping containers or drifting garbage to fragments of Flight MH370
  • Among ocean experts, opinion differs over how much non-plane debris is in the area
  • Southern Indian Ocean is one of world's least researched areas
  • In absence of better data, retrieving floating debris can help narrow search for "black box" recorders
  • But shortage of live satellite data, turbulence and passage of time since flight's disappearance hamper search for debris
On Friday five search planes spotted multiple objects of various colours in the same area - about 1,100km (700 miles) north-east of the previous search zone.
Bad weather has hampered the search efforts in recent days.

Meanwhile Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says he has reassured the families of the missing passengers that the search for any survivors will continue.

Some relatives of the flight's 153 Chinese passengers have refused to accept the Malaysian account of events and have accused officials of withholding information.

Acting Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein: "If there is any lead or information that involves survivors, that has been our priority"

"No matter how remote the search, I am always hoping against hope that we will find survivors," Mr Hishammuddin told the latest news conference following a meeting with the families on Saturday.
Burning more fuel
The Australian and Malaysian governments said on Friday the search area had been changed following further analysis of radar data that showed the plane had been travelling faster, thus burning more fuel.

This would reduce the possible distance the aircraft travelled south into the Indian Ocean, officials said.

Search efforts had until Friday morning focused on an area some 2,500km (1,550 miles) to the south-west of the Australian city of Perth.

Workers on a Chinese patrol ship using nets One Chinese vessel retrieved objects using nets
map showing search areas and debris spotted
Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 starts search in new area The Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 has started searching the new area
Relative of a Chinese passenger of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, smokes next to a message board dedicated to passengers, in Beijing, 29 March. Relatives of Chinese passengers have been anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones
Malaysian officials have concluded that, based on satellite data, the missing plane flew into the sea somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. So far no trace of it has been found.

MH370 - Facts at a glance

  • 8 March - Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight carrying 239 people disappears
  • Plane's transponder, which gives out location data, was switched off as it left Malaysian airspace
  • Satellite 'pings' indicate plane was still flying seven hours after satellite contact was lost
  • 24 March - Based on new calculations, Malaysian PM says "beyond reasonable doubt" that plane crashed in southern Indian Ocean with no survivors
Various theories about what went wrong have been suggested - including the captain hijacking his own plane. 

The speculation was fuelled by reports that files had been deleted on the pilot's home flight simulator.
However Mr Hishammuddin said investigators who had looked at the equipment had turned up no new information.

"There is nothing sinister from the simulators but of course that will have to be confirmed by the chief of police,'' he said.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 vanished less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
The airliner diverted off course and lost contact with air traffic controllers between Malaysian and Vietnamese air-traffic control areas.

The vast expanse of ocean has turned the search into a major challenge.

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