Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370: Latest information on search for missing jetliner

Written by Agencies | Kuala Lumpur | Updated: Mar 29 2014, 15:07pm hrs
Fresh objects spotted by planes searching for a missing Malaysian passenger jet in a new area of the southern Indian Ocean have again raised hopes of unravelling the three-week old mystery.

Australian officials said on Saturday that objects spotted floating in a new search area for debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 need to be recovered and inspected before they can be linked to the plane,

Eight planes were ready to comb the newly targeted area off the west coast of Australia after several objects were spotted Friday, including two rectangular items that were blue and gray, and ships on the scene will attempt to recover them, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

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A woman looks at messages dedicated to passengers aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 and their family members, while Malaysian government officials hold a briefing to the family members in Beijing. (Reuters)

NEW SEARCH AREA

Australia announced Friday that the search area for the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared March 8 has shifted to a new Indian Ocean region, 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast of where planes and ships had been trying to find it.

WHY THE SHIFT

Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said an additional analysis of radar data indicated the plane was traveling faster than was previously thought, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance it traveled south.

Dolan said the previous analysis had a range of possible assumptions about aircraft speed, and those assumptions have now been refined. He could not say exactly how much faster the plane is believed to have been traveling.

MULTIPLE OBJECTS SIGHTED

Five out of 10 search planes spotted multiple unidentified objects in the new search zone, and a ship will attempt to confirm the sightings and identify the items on Saturday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

CONFUSION OVER IMAGERY

Several countries have announced recent satellite sightings of objects in the previous search area. In an apparent difference of views, Australian officials have been hesitant to describe the objects as possible plane debris and are focusing instead on the new search area, while Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he believes both the object sightings and the new search zone should be investigated. Some experts say the objects are most likely sea junk.

NEW SEARCH AREA:

The new search zone is both closer to western Australia - and therefore easier for search crews to reach - and does not have the same harsh weather conditions as the old search location.

Robin Beaman, a marine geologist and research fellow at Australia's James Cook University, said the new information means any debris that has sunk is likely to be in deeper water than previously thought, perhaps about 4,600 meters (15,100 feet) rather than 3,000 meters (9,842 feet).Live updates: Fresh multiple objects seen in new search area for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370

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