A US pilot believes he has found an image of the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Six weeks have now passed since the plane disappeared and extensive searches in the Indian Ocean have failed to locate any wreckage.
New York pilot Michael Hoebel, 60, believes he found an image of what appears to be the wreck of the missing passenger jet in the Gulf of Thailand, which is where the Boeing 777 made its last communication with air traffic authorities on the morning of March 8.
“I was taken aback because I couldn’t believe I would find this,” Hoebel told a local TV news channel after spotting debris he believes perfectly matches the dimensions of the missing plane.
He said he spent hours trawling through thousands of images on TomNod, a crowd-sourcing website that has been sharing online satllite imagery in the hope of finding clues.
When he was asked whether it could have been an image of a shark, Hoebel responded:
"That's a 210ft shark."
"The lighter skin where the wing attaches to the fuselage - you see that lighter skin."
FIRST ON 7: Exploration company believes it may have found MH370
The development comes as an Adelaide-based exploration company announced that it may have located the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, 5000km away from where authorities have been looking.
The company surveyed over 2,000,000 square kilometres of the possible crash zone, using images obtained from satellites and aircraft.
Scientists focused their efforts north of the flight’s last known location, using over 20 technologies to analyse the data including a nuclear reactor.
They could not believe what they found in the Bay of Bengal.
“Our team was very excited when we found what we believe to be the wreckage of a commercial airliner,” Mr Pope said.
Pavel Kursa from GeoResonance told 7News: “We identified chemical elements and materials that make up a Boeing 777… these are aluminium, titanium, copper, steel alloys and other materials.”
An initial report was sent to authorities while the black box still had two weeks of battery power.
The team then verified its findings by analysing images from the same area on March 5, three days before the plane disappeared.
“The wreckage wasn’t there prior to the disappearance of MH370,” Mr Pope said.
The full report was delivered on April 15.
“We’re not trying to say that it definitely is MH370, however it is a lead we feel should be followed up,” Mr Pope told 7News.
New search as hope fades
Tony Abbott has conceded missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370 may never be found after authorities abandoned the surface search in favour of a massive sonar sweep of the sea floor.
The Prime Minister said the fact no wreckage had been found had frustrated, disappointed and baffled authorities after 42 days of searching the Indian Ocean.
Mr Abbott said the new search phase would involve a vast underwater sonar search - but only after international experts reconsidered all the data identifying the probable impact zone.
He said this search would probably cost $60 million, cover 60,000sqkm and take at least eight months - though the man in charge of the search, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, suggested it may take a lot longer.
"We are going to methodically, carefully, to the very best of the ability of contemporary technology, search the entire probable impact zone, 700km by 80km," Mr Abbott said. "We will search it all.
"This is so important, not just to the families but to everyone who travels by air … we owe it to the world to do whatever we reasonably can to get to the bottom of the mystery."