UK & World News

  • 28 March 2014, 18:31

Missing Plane: Image Shows Objects In Sea

Australian authorities have released an image taken by search planes looking for missing flight MH370 in a new area in the Indian Ocean.

The image shows two apparently white objects, one rectangular and one circular, floating in the sea inside a new search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

A tweet from the Australian Marine Safety Authority (AMSA) said a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft first spotted the objects on Friday.

The sightings, which AMSA said included two rectangular objects that were blue and grey - among the colours of the missing plane - will need to be confirmed by personnel on board ships involved in the search.

That is expected to take place on Saturday when the Chinese Maritime Administration patrol ship Haixun 01 moves into the area.

It comes after the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane shifted due to data suggesting it was travelling faster than previously thought.

Analysis of radar information from before contact with flight MH370 was lost indicated the plane was burning up fuel more quickly and may not have travelled as far south over the Indian Ocean.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau described the data, which came from analysis by Boeing, as the "most credible lead to where debris may be located".

Search teams have been relocated to scour an area 685 miles northeast of the zone they had been operating in.

Some 10 aircraft, including nine military planes, are involved, and six ships are being sent to the region.

Experts will also trawl through satellite images of the new search zone to identify any possible crash sites.

During a news conference on Friday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian authorities said the search in the Indian Ocean could shift to a deep sea search and salvage if no sign of the missing plane was discovered before the 30-day life of its black box battery.

The search is now nearly three weeks old and the operation has had to be called off twice due to bad weather.

Acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the new search area "could still be consistent with the potential objects identified by various satellite images" because of ocean drift.

Professor Chris Bellamy, a maritime security expert at the University of Greenwich, said it was not surprising that the search area continues to change.

He told Sky News: "In that time (since satellite images), with a current of approximately three knots the debris could have drifted that distance.

"We may be talking about a load of debris floating in the area that they have been searching just before they moved the area and an impact in the new area.

"It doesn't totally surprise me that it's taken them so long to refine the search and decide that the plane probably went in further north."

The development comes after images from a Thai satellite showed 300 objects ranging from two to 15 metres in size scattered in the sea about 1,700 miles southwest of Perth.

A French satellite spotted more than 120 objects floating in the ocean, while Japan is also reported to have captured aerial images of 10 items.

It is not known whether any of the objects are from the missing Boeing 777, which disappeared on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The plane is thought to have crashed with the loss of all 239 people on board after flying thousands of miles off course.

Distraught relatives of the 150 Chinese passengers on board the plane continue to voice their anger and frustration at the speed of the investigation.

Some Chinese insurance companies have started paying compensation to the families, according to the state news agency.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, has been asked about the psychological testing of pilots employed by the airline.

He said: "They do psychological tests when they take new pilots on. That is something we check yearly and six-monthly, depending on how old they are, through an interview with aviation doctors."

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