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MISSING MH370: 'Info received corroborated by other satellites'

Publication Date : 21-03-2014

 

Confirmation "any time now"

 

Malaysia is waiting for confirmation “any time now” that the two objects spotted in the southern Indian Ocean are indeed debris from missing Flight MH370, said defence minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

“It will be the most important breaking news which the people here and throughout the world will want to know and, believe me, when we get the information we will release it,” he told reporters at the daily 5:30pm media briefing at Sama-Sama Hotel here.

Hishammuddin said aircraft and ships had been sent to the area to locate the objects spotted by satellite.

“This gives us hope. As long as there is hope, we will continue our search and that is why I said that it is a priority to find the aircraft and the ‘black box’ (flight data recorder).

“To be fair to the families, we must never, never give up hope,” said the acting transport minister.

Hishammuddin described the discovery of the objects in the sea 2,500km south-west of Perth as the most credible lead so far in the search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that went missing 49 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:41am on March 8.

On his assessment of the likelihood that the objects were indeed debris from the missing aircraft, Hishammuddin said he felt “comfortable” that it was a credible lead that needed to be verified as soon as possible.

“The information that we have received from the Australian authorities on the images was corroborated to a certain extent by other satellites.

“This is why we are sending our ships across to investigate and why the Prime Minister of Australia contacted our Prime Minister, as it is different from earlier leads.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott contacted Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak by telephone at 10am yesterday to inform that two possible objects related to the search for MH370 had been identified in the southern Indian Ocean from satellite imagery taken of the area.

The images were provided by the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (Amsa) Rescue Coordination Centre.

Hishammuddin said that if the objects were confirmed to be debris from MH370, the next step would be to locate the aircraft flight data recorder.

Asked how long the search for MH370 in the vast Indian Ocean could be sustained, Hishammuddin said it should be compared to the recovery of Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.

This is because some of the conditions in the Indian Ocean were similar to the Atlantic, which would pose certain challenges in recovering MH370.

Hishammuddin said the search for the MH370 black box could be a long affair, as it took two years to locate the flight data recorder of Air France Flight 447.

He said members of the Air France Flight 447 search teams whom he had spoken to said a search of the sea bed for the aircraft black box in the first 30 days after a crash would require the use of sonar locators lowered into the sea and towed by ships.

After 30 days, which is when the black box batteries typically run out, specially equipped submarines would be required to search for the aircraft in the sea.

“We are now looking into sonar technology and the kinds of assets that are available to very few countries,” said Hishammuddin.

He said Amsa was coordinating the search for MH370 within the area designated to Australia.

A Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft has already arrived in the area where the objects were spotted at about 10.50am yesterday.

Two other Orion aircraft – one from Australia and the other from New Zealand – as well as US P-8 Poseidon aircraft were due to join the search.

An Australian C-130 aircraft was meanwhile deployed to the area to drop marker buoys to assist in drift modelling in the event that the search for the objects becomes protracted.

A merchant ship was also due to arrive ahead of the Australian navy ship HMAS Success, which is equipped to recover any objects located and proven to be from MH370.

 

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