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Search to continue at 5.30am tomorrow

Malaysiakini  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Below are updates and the latest coverage from various sources and news agencies, as we enter Day 13 of the MH370 search and rescue operations:

11pm: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak tweets that he has met Jean Paul Troadec, the head of the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety).
 
Troadec was involved in the search for Air France 447, which crashed in 2009 ( right ).

The plane's black box was eventually found at depths of about 4,000m in the Atlantic Ocean. The process took two years.

10pm: Norwegian car carrier Hoegh St Petersburg has stopped searching the area.

According to the owners of the ship, the vesssel has been traveling "back-and-forth" along the assigned area to allow its 19-strong, all Filipino, crew to comb the area with binoculars, reports the BBC .

Search continues tomorrow.

9.30pm: The Australian-led search 2,500km southwest of Perth ceased at 9pm Malaysian time without finding any debris from MH370 nor objects that appeared in the satellite images revealed this morning.
 
The search will resume at 5.30am Malaysian time tomorrow (Both Perth and Malaysia are in the same time zone).

8.41pm: Australia expects to make a quick deliberation on whether possible debris seen at sea is indeed from flight MH370, the Australian Associated Press reports, but a first spotter flight failed to locate anything in bad weather.

Authorities should know something definite on the possible discovery of debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane within "two or three days", the news agency quotes Defence Minister David Johnston as saying in Jakarta.

8.20pm: Sydney Morning Herald reports earlier that surveillance planes have returned to Perth without having located the possible debris.

National news agency Bernama reports that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has encountered problems due to bad weather in locating the objects.

Clouds and rain have caused limited visibility for the RAAF P-3 Orion aircraft crew to locate the objects spotted by satellite about 2,500km southwest of the Australian city of Perth, Bernama quotes the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa)'s tweets.

6.56pm: Reuters reports that Norwegian car-carrier Hoegh St Petersburg has reached the area in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia where two objects, possible MH370 debris, were spotted.

It was reportedly on its way from Madagascar to Melbourne when it got a request from Australian authorities to assist in the search.

Meanwhile, it is reported by several news agencies that US Poseidon has returned to Perth, with no sightings.

However CNN reporter stresses that the Poseidon was not searching in the same area as depicted in the satellite images which were released earlier.

6.26pm: Sydney Morning Herald reports that DCA chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman says family members of those on board MAS Flight MH370 will be flown to Perth, Australia, should the two object detected by satellite proves to be debris from the missing aircraft.

6.06pm: Fairfax Radio federal political reporter Frank Keany says the search will continue for another three hours, reports Sydney Morning Herald .

6.05pm: BBC reports that the Australian plane is dropping data buoys in the sea, near the suspected debris site, to track drift and mark area.

However Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) tweets that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orian crew is unable to locate possible debris as cloud and rain limits visibility of search efforts. But assures search will continue.

6.04pm: Discovery of any debris from Flight MH370 will help eliminite many theories currently shrouding the plane's disapperance, says Sydney Morning Herald .

This includes possible hijacking as there are no known airports "along the southern flight path".

5.35pm: Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein leads the daily briefing and press conference.

Highlights from the briefing:

  • Search operations will continue in both the southern and northern corridors, until it is confirmed that debris from the plane is found.

 

  • He can confirm that Malaysia will send two aircraft to Kazakhstan while United Kingdom is sending a ship to the southern corridor. [UK Ministry of Defence later confirms it will be sending the coastal survey ship HMS Echo there, reports Sydney Morning Herald ]
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  • He says ships heading to the scene are equipped to recover any wreckage.
  • In the southern search area, there are 25 aircraft and 18 ships looking for any sign of MH370.

     

  • Hishammuddin says while there is a "credible lead", it still needs to be verified, and while there is a lead, there is hope.
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  • Should debris be verified, he says the next step would be to locate the plane's black box. Should that time arise, he says different assets would have to be deployed.
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  • Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman says they were informed of the possible sighting of the debris earlier today but is uncertain as to the exact time the satellite images were taken.
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  • Authorities have not ruled out the possibility of a "catastropic event" having taken place on board, causing decompression in the aircraft.
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  • PM's special envoy to China, together with China's ambassador to Malaysia, will lead a briefing for families from China today.
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  • A high-level team will leave for Beijing today to meet with family members of passengers there.
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  • Hishammuddin states the Malaysian government "regrets" yesterday's incident in which the distraught family members of Chinese passengers were forcibly removed from the press briefing room at Sama-Sama Hotel near KLIA, when trying to speak to the media.
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    5.20pm: NBC News reports that the US Poseidon has not been able to confirm any sighting of possible debris.

    5.10pm: According to BBC reporter Jonah Fisher, US Navy's P-8 Poseidon is currently flying over the area where the objects are believed to be.

    4.46pm: Here are views of experts interviewed by AFP regarding the new sighting.

    Anthony Brickhouse, associate professor of aerospace and occupational safety at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the United States:

    "If you remember about a week ago the Chinese put out information that they have picked up information that they have picked up something on satellite and everybody got really excited about it and it turned out to be nothing.

    "This seems a little more credible than what the Chinese found but until they can actually get down there and identify the wreckage as being part of MH370 we really don't know yet."

    David Kaminski-Morrow, air transport editor, Flight International:

    "It's the best lead simply because, with so little information, it's effectively the only lead. The key issue initially will be ensuring that the items seen can be located by search teams capable of making a closer examination.

    "While a timeframe is hard to estimate, the inquiry needs to conduct its assessment as quickly as possible because the ocean is constantly shifting and, should the debris be significant, every hour of drift adds uncertainty to position data."

    Andrew Herdman, director-general, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines:

    "I think it is quite significant that they decided to release the information through a statement from Prime Minister Abbott, they obviously think it is important and credible.

    "But both the prime minister and Dr John Young exercised great caution not wanting the public to draw too much from the information. Young has significant experience in search and rescue, and if he is cautious, I think we have to be as well

    "They keep talking about images from satellite but John Young used the word 'blob', meaning the image may not be high resolution."

    4.26pm: The New Straits Times reports that Australia's AP-3C Orion plane is the first to reach the scene.

    Also, it states that Malaysian authorities are to hold a briefing for families of Flight MH370 passengers and crew later today at Cyberview Lodge in Cyberjaya.

    4.25pm: BBC quotes Air Vice Marshal Kevin Short, overseeing New Zealand's search efforts, stating that their aircraft will carry out a radar and visual search.

    "They will be flying at about 1,000ft (300metres) above sea level... Whatever imagery is actually taken will be sent back to the rescue coordination centre for analysis."

    4.22pm: David Gallo, the US project leader in the search for a missing Air France flight in 2009, says based on the descriptions provided by officials, the discovery is sounding increasingly like a debris field.

    While debris would typically scatter, he states that ocean experts who study wind and waves have told him there is a pocket in the search area that has been fairly calm over the past few days, making it possible for the debris to have stuck closer together.

    According to CBC News , Gallo also  predicts it could turn out to be a piece of the plane's wing or fuselage.

    Assuming that the debris is that of MH370, Gallo says: "It sounds like the plane was landed fairly gently. It wasn’t nose-dived into the surface of the ocean, if it is in fact the plane."

    4pm: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak tweets that he is meeting with Chief of Defence Forces Mohd Zulkifeli Mohd Zin after receiving a call by Australian counterpart Tony Abbott about the possible sighting of MH370 debris.

    3.55pm : The US Navy has clarifies that the radar hits reported by ABC reporter is most probably not linked to the two objects detected by satellite earlier today, but normal radar returns.

    3:48pm: An oceanographer quoted by Sydney Morning Herald says  attempt to recover the black box could prove to be “extremely difficult” as only ships and underwater vehicles can do the job of recover any wreckage, if there.

    This is complicated by the fact that, according to Chari Pattiaratchi of the University of Western Australia, that the debris had been located close to the a place known as "Roaring Forties", one of the roughest part of the world.

    Read more here .

    3.30pm: ABC reports that a US plane heading towards the site where the Australian government says satellite detected two objects, is getting radar hits of "significant size".

    Its reporter David Wright, who is on board the US Navy P-8 Poseidon, reports that this indicates there is indeed something below the water’s surface of the southern Indian Ocean.

    It is yet, however, uncertain if these objects are part of the missing Boeing 777.

    2.54pm: The Australian Department of Defence releases the satellite images of the two objects spotted, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

    1.37pm: Reuters releases the basic dimensions of the Boeing 777-200ER, used for MAS Flight MH370, as search teams rush to the location where satellite detected two floating objects off Western Australia.

    • Wing span - 60.9 metres

     

  • Overall length - 63.7 metres
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  • Tail Height - 18.5 metres
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  • Fuselage Diameter - 6.19 metres
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  • Each wing - 27.4 metres (estimated)
  • 12.50pm: According to the Herald Sun of Mebourne, the satellite images were captured in the vicinity of the search area as defined by the search in past two days.

    “The imagery was assessed by experts this morning who deemed it to be ‘credible’.

    One of the objects is up to 24 metres in length, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) general manager John Young says today.

    “The indication to me is of objects that are of reasonable size and awash with water, bobbing up and down on the surface.”

    Young says the objects were much larger than a basketball.

    “The largest image I’ve seen is assessed as being about 24m.

    “And a number of other images in the general area,” he adds

    The objects seen on satellite radar are “possible indications of debris” about 2,500km south-west of Perth, south of the search area.

    12.40pm: Precision Manuals Development Group (PMDG) Solutions, the company that designed the flight simulator used by Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah, denies that the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 pilot was involved in the development and testing of its PMDG 777-200LR/F product line.

    Is it uncertain if this product referred to by company CEO Robert S Randazzo in a statement is the same as that seized by the pilot home recently.

    "Our community appears to have lost one of our own by virtue of the fact that he was also an accomplished Boeing 777 captain flying for a well-respected airline," he says.

    Adding that Zaharie was also well known within the flight simulation company, he warns the public against making any conjecture to the effect his flight simulation hobby could have played a role in the disappearance of MH370.

    He describes such conjecture as "insulting to those who wear or have worn the stripes of a flight captain".

    12.00pm: PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim tells CNN that Malaysia had purchased a radar system during his tenure as finance minister, which should have been able to spot MH370.

    “They had the capability to detect any flight from the west - or from the east to the west coast, from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean,” he says.

     

    Anwar, who says he had met the flight’s captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah before, also defended him by saying that the pilot is against any form of extremism.

    Read the story in full here .

    11.29am:

    Australian PM Tony Abbott announces that satellite imagery has picked up two objects of Western Australia, in the south Indian Ocean.

    He says, according to BBC News Asia , that the aircrafts have been diverted to the location to determine if they are indeed related to missing Flight MH370.

    10.30am: A simple US$10 (RM32) computer upgrade could have provided critical information which could have aided the search for missing Flight MH370, says a New Zealand media report.

    Alas, according to news site Stuff , Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chose not to purchase the upgrade, which a satellite industry official says could have provided investigators with the plane’s direction, speed and altitude even after other communications from the plane was lost.

    10.10am: CNN reports that Malaysia has given Indian authorities new search coordinates in the southern Indian Ocean.

    However, they do not reveal the coordinates.

    9.40am: United States' President Barack Obama assures that locating missing MH370 is the US' "top priority".

    His first time speaking publicly about the crisis, he tells an American radio station yesterday that the country has placed every available resource at the disposal of the search and rescue operations, and have been working closely with the Malaysian government, reports the Time.

    5.50am: US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials are helping the Malaysian government analyse data from the home-made flight simulator taken from missing pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home.

    Reuters reports that FBI is also looking at electronic data generated by both Zaharie and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, besides that from the simultor, such as from electronic media used by the latter.

    Read full report here .

    Background:

    • MAS flight MH370 went missing, en route to Beijing, not long after taking off from KL International Airport in the early hours of March 8, with 12 crew members and 227 passengers.

     

  • Its whereabout remains a mystery as 26 countries race to locate the missing plane, believed to be either in the nothern corridor, anywhere between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, or in the southern corridor covering Indonesia and to the south of the India Ocean.
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  • This comes after the authorities determined that the plane intentionally made a turn-back and altered its course.
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