TEHRAN, YJC. Malaysian plane debris potentially spotted in satellite imagery Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing on March 8
Australia has sent four aircraft and a navy ship to scour an area in the southern Indian Ocean to determine whether two large floating objects spotted by satellite are pieces of wreckage from a Malaysian jet missing for nearly two weeks.
No wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been found since it disappeared on March 8, sparking one of the largest search efforts in aviation history and raising a series of questions as to what happened to the plane carrying 239 people.
"It is credible enough to divert the research to this area on the basis it provides a promising lead to what might be wreckage from the debris field," said Air Commodore John McGarry of Australia's department of defence at a press conference.
Satellite imagery analyzed by experts discovered two objects of a "reasonable size" bobbing up and down in the southern Indian Ocean, John Young, Australia's Maritime Safety Authority's (AMSA) emergency response general manager, said at the conference. The objects were spotted about 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth.
The largest object appears to be about 24 metres, he said — with the second object being smaller at about five metres. A number of smaller images appear to be scattered around the large object, he said.
"This is a lead. It is probably the best lead we have right now. But we need to get there, find them, see them, assess them to know whether it’s really meaningful or not," he said, but warned that the objects may turn out to be a false lead.
A Royal Australian Air Force Orion aircraft arrived in the area about 1:50 p.m. local time. Poor visibility in the area has been reported. CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe says that may be the case for the next several hours. This could hamper the search efforts with only a limited number of daylight hours remaining before the night.
Another three aircraft have been dispatched and are expected to arrive later Thursday.
Two ships are also on their way to the search area. A merchant ship, which responded to a rescue co-ordination centre call, is expected to arrive around 6 p.m., while a Royal Australian Navy ship, which is well-equipped for recovering objects, is still days away from the area.
"The most likely scenario is that an aircraft will find an object, if it is findable, and then report back an accurate GPS position," Young said. "And AMSA would task the ship to proceed to the area and attempt to see it.
"That would be our first chance to get a close up look of whatever the objects might be and progressively advance the identification of whether they’re associated with the search or not."
The families of the passengers and crew on board the missing flight appear to be holding out hope that this will either fail to be wreckage or survivors will be found, said CBC's Andrew Lee from a hotel in Beijing where many of the families are staying.
Lee said he spoke to one man, who was aware of the satellite imagery, who said he believes his son is still alive and won't believe otherwise unless he sees a body. The father said families have had to cope with a great deal of misinformation, making it difficult to believe this new development.
Lee said families in the hotel are on "razor-thin edge to begin with" and emotions ran high after they were briefed on the possible findings.
People rushed out of the briefing room, many with their heads down and tears on their faces, he said.