A New Zealand military aircraft has spotted debris in a new area in the Indian Ocean as the hunt for Malaysia Airlines MH370 continues, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said yesterday.
This was the first sighting of objects possibly related to MH370 since Australian authorities moved the search some 1,100 kilometres to the north of the original area following new analysis of the plane’s flight path.
In a tweet, AMSA said the debris had yet to be positively identified as remnants of the aircraft, with vessels heading to the area tasked with confirming its nature today.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Orion surveillance plane has found possible debris in a new search area identified by Australian authorities as the likely area where MH370 crashed.
A Chinese vessel, Haixun 01, is in the search zone but other vessels – including Australia’s HMAS Success – are understood to have not arrived in the new area, which is 1,100km from the area they were scouring on Thursday.
The international team of aircraft and boats have combed approximately 319,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean located around 1,850km west of Perth, AMSA said, after new information was received from the Malaysian team investigating the incident.
The new search area was determined by a team from aircraft maker Boeing and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, chief of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation.
“From that particular record, they have come up with a higher speed for the aircraft than we did before,” he said. “Therefore, the aircraft would not be as far as what we envisaged [it] to be and is on the northern side of the satellites sightings of the objects.”
Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Boeing, NTSB and other experts from Inmarsat, Britain, China and Malaysia were examining the data to pinpoint the exact location of the aircraft, which was carrying 239 people.
“This work is on-going, and we can expect further refinements,” he said. “With each step, we get closer to understanding MH370’s flight path.”
Hishammddin said all satellite leads provided earlier by Japan, Thailand, Australia, China, France and Malaysia were located southwest of Perth. “All the sightings, I can confirm, are located southwest of Perth consistent with what we announced earlier,” he said.
Yesterday, a multinational fleet of planes and ships raced to a fresh search zone after a “credible new lead” that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was flying faster than first thought before it plunged into the remote Indian Ocean.
Ten aircraft from six countries – Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States – diverted to an area 1,100 kilometres northeast of where they have been looking for a week, far off western Australia.
Five Chinese ships and an Australian naval vessel were also steaming to the new zone of interest after the weather cleared following the suspension of the air search on Thursday due to thunderstorms and high winds, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.