New search area for Malaysia Airlines crash site

An Australian Air Force serviceman watches as a C-17 taxis on the tarmac of the RAAF Base Pearce near Perth to continue searching for wreckage of malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, March 28, 2014.  Credit: Reuters
An Australian Air Force serviceman watches as a C-17 taxis on the tarmac of the RAAF Base Pearce near Perth to continue searching for wreckage of malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, March 28, 2014.
Credit: Reuters

An air and sea search for a missing Malaysian passenger jet moved north on Friday, after Australian authorities coordinating the operation in the remote Indian Ocean received new information from Malaysia that suggested the plane ran out of fuel earlier than thought.

The dramatic shift in the search area, moving it 685 miles north — further than the distance between London and Berlin — followed analysis of radar and satellite data that showed the missing plane had traveled faster than had been previously calculated, and so would have burned through its fuel load quicker.

Australia said late on Friday that five aircraft had spotted “multiple objects of various colors” in the new search area.

“Photographic imagery of the objects was captured and will be assessed overnight,” the Australian Maritime and Safety Authority said in a statement.

“The objects cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships.”

The latest twist underscores the perplexing and frustrating hunt for evidence in the near three-week search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour into a Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight.

Malaysia says the plane was likely diverted deliberately, but investigators have turned up no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or the 12 crew.

Malaysian officials said the new search area was the result of a painstaking analysis of Malaysian military radar data and satellite readings from British company Inmarsat carried out by U.S., Chinese, British and Malaysian investigators.

Engine performance analysis by the plane’s manufacturer Boeing helped investigators determine how long the plane could have flown before it ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean, they said.

“Information which had already been examined by the investigation was re-examined in light of new evidence drawn from the Inmarsat data analysis,” Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference.

AIRCRAFT RE-DIRECTED

For more than a week, ships and surveillance planes have been scouring seas 1,550 miles southwest of Perth, where satellite images had shown possible debris from Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8.

Ten aircraft searching on Friday were immediately re-directed to the new area of 123,000 square miles, roughly the size of Poland, around 1,150 miles west of Perth. The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organization was also redirecting satellites there, AMSA said.

A flotilla of Australian and Chinese ships would take longer to shift north, however, with the Australian naval ship the HMAS Success not due to arrive until Saturday morning.

The new search area is larger, but closer to Perth, allowing aircraft to spend longer on site by shortening travel times. It is also vastly more favorable in terms of the weather as it is out of the deep sea region known as the Roaring 40s for its huge seas and frequent storm-force winds.

“I’m not sure that we’ll get perfect weather out there, but it’s likely to be better more often than what we’ve seen in the past,” John Young, general manager of the emergency response division of Australian Maritime Safety Authority, told reporters, adding the previous search site was being abandoned.

“We have moved on from those search areas to the newest credible lead,” he said.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said earlier that the shift was based on analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. At that time, the Boeing 777 was making a radical diversion west from its course.

Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said at Friday’s news conference he was “not at liberty” to give the exact path of the aircraft. Officials close to the investigation told Reuters last week that the plane may have passed close to Port Blair, the capital of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 550 miles further northwest from where Malaysia has said its military radar last detected it.

SATELLITE IMAGES

The shift comes less than a day after the latest reports of sightings of possible wreckage, captured by Thai and Japanese satellites in roughly the same frigid expanse of sea as earlier images reported by France, Australia and China.

Images had shown suspected debris, including pieces as large as 70 feet, within the original search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

Potential debris has also been seen from search aircraft, but none has been picked up or confirmed as the wreckage of Flight MH370.

Hishammuddin said it was still possible that those objects were debris from the plane, as any wreckage could have been swept hundreds of miles from the crash site by now.

“Because of ocean drift, this new search area could still be consistent with the potential objects identified by various satellite images over the past week,” he said.

The U.S. Navy said on Friday it was sending a second P8-Poseidon, its most advanced maritime surveillance aircraft, to help in the search.

“It’s critical to continue searching for debris so we can reverse-forecast the wind, current and sea state since March 8 to recreate the position where MH370 possibly went into the water,” said Commander Tom Moneymaker, a U.S. 7th Fleet oceanographer.

The United States has also sent a device that can be towed behind a ship to pick up faint pings from the plane’s black box voice and data recorders, but time is running out.

“We’ve got to get this initial position right prior to deploying the Towed Pinger Locator since the MH370′s black box has a limited battery life and we can’t afford to lose time searching in the wrong area,” Moneymaker said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Local

VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.

Local

NYS state forces thrift shops comply with ban…

Nine New York City thrift shops were reprimanded by the state attorney general for selling children's clothes with drawstrings around the neck and waist.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 11,…

Caleb's not a ghost. Spencer might still be an attempted murderer. And Hanna's going to die next week. In other words, we actually got some…

Movies

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

Marvel Entertainment's Stan Lee is adding outposts to his creative empire to interest a new generation of children in super heroes of all shapes and sizes.

Television

Mira Sorvino explores immortality on 'Intruders'

Mira Sorvino's new show "Intruders" centers around a secret society that achieves immortality by taking over the bodies of other people.

Television

5 things you need to know about new…

"Doctor Who" returns Saturday with a new star, Peter Capaldi. Here's some things to know about him (mainly his turn as sweary spin doctor Malcolm Tucker).

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

NFL

David Wilson returns to triple jump, sets sights…

Giants fans know David Wilson can jump. They are just more used to seeing him go for backflips, not distance.

Style

11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.

Parenting

How everyday moments can inspire kids' creativity

"The Artist's Way for Parents" author Julia Cameron gives advice on how parents and children can be creative together.

Tech

How to stay safe online

Stop worrying about keeping your online passwords safe, and start worrying about keeping your username a secret. Actually, worry about both. According to Shaun Murphy…

Tech

OpenTable now lets you pay your bill via…

The restaurant app OpenTable added the ability to pay your bill (and tip) with your phone, thus cutting back on a few dining annoyances.