Tag Archives: Gulf of Thailand

French data show possible debris from jetliner

PERTH, Australia (AP)France provided new satellite data Sunday showing possible debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as searchers combing a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean tried without success to locate a pallet that could be a key clue in solving one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries.

The new information given to Malaysia’s government and forwarded to searchers in Australia shows “potential objects” in the same part of the ocean where satellite images previously released by Australia and China showed objects that could be debris from the plane, Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport said in a statement without providing further details.

Flight 370 went missing over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, setting off a multinational search effort that has turned up nothing conclusive so far on what happened to the jet.

Sunday’s search was frustrating because “there was cloud down to the surface and at times we were completely enclosed by cloud,” Royal Australian Air Force flight Lt. Russell Adams told reporters at the military base where the planes take off and land on their missions.

Nothing of interest to searchers was found, he said, adding that the search is worth it because “we might do 10 sorties and find nothing, but on that 11th flight when you find something and you know that you’re actually contributing to some answers for somebody.”

Details on the French data were not immediately released. The statement from Malaysia called the information “new satellite images,” while a statement from France’s Foreign Ministry said “radar echoes taken by a satellite” had located floating debris but made no mention of imagery.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is leading the search in waters off Australia, declined to offer details about the information from France. The authority did not respond to multiple requests by The Associated Press for access to the data.

“Any satellite images or other new information that comes to AMSA is being considered in developing the search plans,” AMSA said.

But a Malaysian official involved in the search mission said the French data consisted of radar echoes captured Friday and converted into fuzzy images that located objects about 930 kilometers (575 miles) north of the spots where the objects in the images released by Australia and China were located.

One of the objects located was estimated to be about the same size as an object captured Tuesday by the Chinese satellite that appeared to be 22 meters (72 feet) by 13 meters (43 feet), said the official, who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. It was not possible to determine precise dimensions from the French data, the official said.

Information about the new data emerged as authorities coordinating the search, which is being conducted about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, sent planes and a ship to try to “re-find” a wooden pallet that appeared to be surrounded by straps of varying lengths and colors. It was spotted Saturday by spotters in a search plane, but no images were captured of it and a military PC Orion military plane dispatched to locate the pallet could not find it.

“So, we’ve gone back to that area again today to try and re-find it,” said Mike Barton, chief of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s rescue coordination center. An Australian navy ship was also involved in the search.

Wooden pallets are commonly used in shipping, but can also be used in cargo containers carried on planes.

AMSA said the aircraft that spotted the pallet was unable to take photos of it.

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Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Plane ‘may have flown for four hours after last-known contact’

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane

US investigators are examining whether missing Flight MH370 was “intentionally diverted” from its planned route after new data revealed the plane may have flown for a further four hours from the point of its last confirmed location.

A report in the Wall Street Journal said US counter-terrorism officials are examining the possibility the plane’s course was changed “with the intention of using it later for another purpose” and that its transponders were intentionally turned off to avoid radar detection.

The report said data downloaded automatically from the plane’s engines, suggests the plane flew for a total of five hours. Its final confirmed location was at 1.31am last Saturday, about 40 minutes after it took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. At that point it was heading north-east across the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand on what should have been a six-hour flight to Beijing.

If true, the information downloaded from the plane’s Rolls Royce engines as part of a routine maintenance and monitoring programme, suggests the plane could have flown on for hundreds of miles and reached as far as India or even the north-west coast of Australia. It would expand the possible search area almost limitlessly.

Yet the report says the data has led investigators in the US to pursue the prospect that the plane may have been diverted by a pilot or someone else. It is unclear whether the plane reached an alternate destination or if it crashed, potentially hundreds of miles from where an international search effort involving 12 countries and more than 80 boats and planes has been focused.

Six days after the plane went missing, most reports had suggested that terrorism or hijacking had been largely discounted. But the report said the new data raised a “host of new questions and possibilities about what happened” to the plane and its 239 passengers and crew.

The report said US investigators remained “fluid” as to the causes of the plane’s disappearance and that it remained unclear whether investigators had evidence indicating possible terrorism or espionage.

The new revelations came as an effort to locate the plane spread out over more than 27,000 nautical square miles. Search planes had been dispatched to a site believed to be the location of where a Chinese government agency website said a satellite had photographed three “suspicious floating objects” on Sunday. It is unclear why it took China so long to share the information.

The location was close to where the plane lost contact with air traffic control but by early Thursday afternoon local time, nothing had been found at the spot. The Associated Press said the head of Malaysia’s civil aviation authority, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, had confirmed no debris had been located by the Vietnamese and Malaysian plans dispatched there.

Earlier on Thursday, China continued to put pressure on Malaysia. Of the 239 people on board, more than 150 were from China. China has criticised Malaysia for the slow pace of the operation and what it has called conflicting information about the search.

Speaking in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang, called for the “relevant party” step up coordination while China’s civil aviation chief. “We will not give up on any suspected clue that has been found,” he said. “This is an international and large-scale search operation involving many countries.”

The last definitive sighting on civilian radar screens of MH370 came at 1.31am on Saturday, less than an hour after the plane took. On Wednesday Rodzali Daud, the Malaysian air force chief, said a dot was plotted on military radar at 2.15 a.m., 200 miles north-west of Penang Island off Malaysia’s west coast at the northern tip of the Strait of Malacca.

But he stressed that there was no confirmation that the dot on the radar was Flight MH370. He said Malaysia was sharing the data with the US Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Security Board.

The Independent.

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