Weather adds to searchers woes
Scanning the seas: Crew aboard a US Navy P-8A Poseidon search the oceans. Picture: US Navy

New satellite images taken three days ago have revealed 122 potential pieces of debris from the missing Malaysian Airline flight MH370, Malaysia’s Transport Minister says.

Hishammuddin Hussein revealed the latest - and largest - find of objects that may have come from the plane at a daily press briefing in Kuala Lumpur.

Earlier satellite images from China, Australia and France showed items floating in the southern Indian Ocean, where the plane is believed to have crashed, leaving no survivors.

“Yesterday, on the 25th of March, the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency, MRSA, received new satellite images from Airbus Defence and Space, which is based in France, and these images were taken on the 23rd of March,” he said this evening.

“MRSA analysed the images and in one area of the ocean, measuring some 400 square kilometres, were able to identify 122 potential objects.

“Some objects were one metre in length, other objects were as much as 23 metres in length. Some of the objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid material.”


Satellite images show possible debris from missing plane.

The minister said the objects were found about 2557km from Perth from where search planes are flying.

“MRSA immediately forwarded the information to the Australian rescue coordination centre yesterday,” he said.

“It must be emphasised that we cannot tell if the potential objects are from MH370. Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation.

“Our determination to find MH370 remains steadfast.

“As we have said all along, we will never give up trying to find the plane in order to bring closure to the families and explain what happened.”

MH370 update from Geoffrey Thomas |

The news comes as weather is again threatening to disrupt the international armada of planes and ships searching the southern Indian Ocean for debris from the missing plane.

There are predictions of gales and thunderstorms in the search zone.

Six countries are involved in the operation - Australia, New Zealand, the US, Japan, China and South Korea - after MH370 vanished on March 8, with 239 people on board, including six Australians.

MH370 legal action begins |

The US Navy has sent a device to Perth to help find the jet's black box of flight and cockpit voice data, along with a robotic underwater vehicle.

But its deployment may have to be delayed, with warnings of potentially damaging weather conditions in the southern Indian Ocean.

“We've mentioned the possibility of gale force winds and thunderstorms. These conditions are markedly worse than those of today,” a Bureau of Meteorology spokesman said.

“At the moment, the forecast is suggesting poor conditions tomorrow.”

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority will make a determination on the search activity later today.

Seven military aircraft have joined five Australian civil aircraft carrying 34 WA State Emergency Service volunteers as observers.

Two ships, Australian ship HMAS Success and China's polar supply ship Xue Long, are in the search area, 2000 kilometres south-west of Perth.

As the search for debris continues, investigators are probing Malaysia authorities are probing an unexplained signal that was sent by the Immarsat system on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that happened just minutes after its final scheduled "ping" occurred.

After communications systems went dark, the plane continued to send an hourly signal to a satellite, with those signals helping investigators determine MH370 flew for seven more hours and towards the southern Indian Ocean.

But a final partial signal sent eight minutes after the last scheduled signal was sent has left authorities baffled.

Malaysian authorities revealed that the flight most probably plunged into the southern Indian Ocean between 8:11am and 9:15am on Saturday, March 8.

Malaysia’s Defence and acting Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said the new details were the result of never-before-used technology that has helped traced the Boeing 777's final moments on a deadly flight path.

MH370's last complete communication was captured on an Inmarsat satellite that was covering two massive southern and northern corridors at 8:11am.

Sometime between 8:19am and 9:15am, all communication was lost.

Investigating authorities have concluded that MH370 crashed into the southern Indian Ocean during that 56 minutes because it would have been out of fuel.

The search for debris has resumed this morning. It was suspended yesterday because of bad weather in the search zone.

Debris from MH370 is expected to wash up along the WA coast over the next few months as search crews race against the impending winter weather to locate the Boeing 777.

The herculean task of locating MH370 will be the most complex international effort in aviation history and it may be years before the wreckage is found.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said this morning the search for the missing airliner was not open-ended but Australia would not lightly abandon efforts to locate the wreckage.

He says Australia is throwing everything it can at the search, which is expected to resume on Wednesday after a 24-hour delay due to bad weather in the southern Indian Ocean.

A combined map of the search areas.
Today's search area.

Four RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft will be involved and another Australian navy vessel will soon join Success, Mr Abbott said.

As well, equipment to recover the aircraft’s black box flight recorder is on the way from the United States.

Mr Abbott said there was a lot of debris in the area and Australia would keep searching until there was no hope of finding anything.

“We are just going to keep on looking because we owe it to people to do everything we can to resolve this riddle,” he told the Nine Network.

A RAAF Orion takes off from Pearce air base this morning to resume the search.

“It is not absolutely open-ended but it is not something we will lightly abandon.”

Mr Abbott said he spoke to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday and pledged Australia’s ongoing help.

“We owe it to the families. We owe it to an anxious world to do everything we can to finally locate some wreckage and to do whatever we can to solve the riddle of this extraordinarily ill-fated flight,” he said.

It took almost two years to find Air France 447 and that was in calmer mid-Atlantic waters, after debris was found six days after the crash in 2009.

According to the lead investigator of the AF447 crash Alain Bouillard, searchers face a “colossal task” that is “far, far harder”. than the two-year search for the Air France plane.

Mr Bouillard said the location of MH370 was “one of the most hostile environments in the world”.

However, searchers were expected to learn from the lessons of the AF447 recovery, observers said.

In that recovery, a team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution operating full ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) used sidescan sonar to locate the main debris field at a depth of 4000m. More than 104 bodies were recovered. from the wreckage.

Families set to arrive in Perth | Chinese relatives protest

Fifty bodies were picked up earlier in the sea and 74 were never found.

Without doubt the biggest challenge in locating and recovering MH370 will be the sea condition with winter swells as high as 25m.


Meanwhile, a US law firm says it has started “multi-million dollar” proceedings against Malaysia Airlines and Boeing over flight MH370, in what could mark the start of an expensive legal battle over the lost plane.

The location of the MH370 is at the convergence of three currents — the South Indian Ocean Current, which becomes the West Australian Current, the Leeuwin Current and the Antarctica Circumpolar Current.

Those underlying currents work below the sea swells that move in a broad easterly or north-easterly direction depending on the frontal activity.

Oceanographer Dr Erik Van Sebille told Channel 7’s Sunrise the currents are extremely strong at up to 2cm a second and would get worse. “And they are only going to get worse”

“The current varies every day and has vortices and debris can move 100km a day (in any direction).”
With the new satellite data from Inmarsat, along with increasing amounts of drift data, searchers will try to zero in on MH370’s initial impact area.

An Australian warship is expected to be tasked with deploying US locator equipment. Yesterday a 5m long 800kg Bluefin drone and a Towed Pinger Locator arrived in Perth on a special G550 jet from the US.
MH370’s black boxes are key to solving the mystery of why the plane veered so far off course.

In theory, the black boxes containing flight data and cockpit voice recordings will continue emitting tracking signals for about another two weeks, with an average audible range of 2km to 3km.

“Picking up a signal from the beacon seems an outside chance,” a member of the team that hunted the black boxes from Air France flight AF447 said. that crashed in the Atlantic in 2009

In that accident, the signals were not heard at all because one transmitter failed and the other fell off and was never found.

The sea bed where MH370 is thought to be is up to 5km deep. But the cockpit voice recorder tapes only the last 30 minutes of the pilots’ conversation and investigators will never hear what happened around the time the plane first changed course.

Meanwhile, a US law firm says it has started “multi-million dollar” proceedings against Malaysia Airlines and Boeing over flight MH370, in what could mark the start of an expensive legal battle over the lost plane.

Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered International said it has filed a court petition in the US state of Illinois on Tuesday, seeking documents pertaining to possible design or mechanical defects or conduct by the airline that may have led to the disaster.

A statement quoting its head of aviation litigation Monica Kelly said: “We believe that both defendants named are responsible for the disaster of Flight MH370”.

The legal action was filed on behalf of Januari Siregar, “a lawyer who lost his son in the terrible crash”, the firm said


with agencies

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West