Has MH370 finally been found? Search teams flock to spot of suspected crash site after China releases satellite image of debris in the South China Sea... where rescuers first started looking
- Chinese government satellite imagery has been released which shows the 'suspected crash site' of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370
- The blurry images appear to show three large pieces of debris - the largest of which is 78-feet by 72-feet
- Discovered near to the aircraft's original flight plan
- The satellite captured the images on March 9 at 11am - the day after the crash - but they were only released on Wednesday
- The images were published on Wednesday evening local time in Beijing around 11 hours ago
- Oil rig worker claims to have witnessed a burning plane flying near to the co-ordinates of the satellite images
- The distance between the last known location of MH370 and new Chinese satellite image is 141 miles northeastwards
- The Chinese confirmed they have deployed aircraft and vessels to verify the debris
- Malaysian search aircraft have also been sent
- The US Navy will be deploying two navy vessels to the area
By JAMES NYE and RICHARD SHEARS IN KUALA LUMPUR
PUBLISHED: 21:19, 12 March 2014 | UPDATED: 01:37, 13 March 2014
A Chinese satellite searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 has found what is being described as three 'large, floating objects' in the South China Sea - sparking a rush by search teams to the area where the hunt originally began.
The potentially crucial development comes on the fifth day of the search for the Boeing 777 seems to corroborate the testimony of a New Zealand oil worker who claims to have witnessed the crash of the missing airplane early on Saturday morning.
It is also in the original search area under the flight’s original search path and appears to discount the theory that the aircraft turned back towards Malaysia and crashed hundreds of miles away on the other side of the Malaysian peninsula.
Location? This image released by Chinese authorities potentially shows a large crash site of what could be Malaysian Airlines Flight 370
Debris: The crucial discovery of the debris was made on March 9 - the day after Malaysian Airlines flight 370 went missing - but were only released on Wednesday
'It's where it's supposed to be,' Peter Goelz, a former National Transportation Safety Board managing director, told CNN remarking on the 'great skepticism' about reports the aircraft carrying 239 passengers had turned around to go back over Malaysia.
'I think they've got to get vessels and aircraft there as quickly as humanly possible.'
The new suspect crash site is about 140 miles from the flight’s last radar contact as broadcast by its transponder.
The three objects are large, measuring 43ft by 59ft, 46ft by 62ft and 79ft by 72ft.
The site is also near where South China Sea oil rig worker Michael Jerome McKay today described seeing what he believes to be the plane burning - in one piece for 10-15 seconds - flying at a high altitude slightly off from the standard route of planes that cross the sea shortly after the plane vanished.
'There was no lateral movement, so it was either coming toward our location, stationary, or going away from our location,' he wrote in a letter to his employers about the sighting on Saturday and seen by ABC News.
Deputy general director of Vietnam's air traffic management, Doan Huu Gia, confirmed he had been sent an email from McKay, the BBC reported.
'We received an email from a New Zealander who works on one of the oil rigs off Vung Tau.
'He said he spotted a burning [object] at that location, some 300 km southeast of Vung Tau.'
Vietnamese officials dispatched a plane to search the area, but the investigation yielded nothing, naval officer Le Minh Thanh told ABC News.
New developments: This map shows the two areas where the search for flight MH370 was focused in green. The blue X marks the spot where the large debris has been spotted by Chinese satellites. The black circle is where the New Zealand oil worker witnessed a plane burning in the sky
Checking: Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said that ships & planes were on their way to help search for MH370 after China's satellite found possible debris. They tweeted this picture and said that verification was in progress
China's State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense announced the discovery of the images in the area where rescuers first started looking on Saturday - along with other images of what appear to show an oil slick tracing the surrounding area.
The images were captured on March 9 - the day after the plane went missing, but were somehow not released until Wednesday. There were 153 Chinese nationals on board the flight.
China's State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence gave no reason for the delay in releasing the images - or why it has not passed the pictures to Malaysian authorities.
There has been speculation that the secretive communist country's armed forces would have been reluctant to immediately reveal their technological capabilities to other nations involved in the search.
CNN are reporting the Chinese satellite images reveal three pieces of debris, the biggest 79-feet by 72-feet and the distance between the last known location of MH370 and new Chinese satellite image is 141 miles eastwards
The location of the suspected debris is half way between Malaysia and Vietnam close to the expected flight path of the aircraft which mysteriously disappeared at 1.30 am on Saturday morning.
However, despite the potentially pivotal release of the images, this is not the first time that authorities have announced they were examining an oil slick or floating objects that could be linked to the missing airliner.
Floating: These images from the Chinese satellite dated March 9 appear to show what could be fuel resting on the surface of the South China Sea and were taken in the zone where the three pieces of large debris were recorded
The Chinese science agency provided coordinates of 105.63 east longitude, 6.7 north latitude, which would put the unidentified debris in waters just northeast of where it took off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
WAS THE MYSTERY OF FLIGHT MH 370 ALREADY SOLVED BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ONLINE?
As speculation mounts that Chinese satellite images may have revealed debris from Malaysian Airlines flight 370 - the unofficial efforts of the online community await confirmation of their detective work
Satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe spent the last five days uploading high-resolution satellite and aerial images to its Tomnod site that let people explore the seas for clues about the crash
The public was viewing 2 million pages of satellite imagery every 10 minutes on Wednesday
Tomnod user Mike Seberger tagged an image taken on Sunday morning (seen above), which appeared to show the outline of a plane underwater
He is unsure of the exact co-ordinates of the location - but is waiting to see if they match those of the debris located by the Chinese satellite
Seberger told CNN: ‘At first, I skipped past it, thinking, 'Nah. No way I would find anything that quickly, but then I kept scrolling back to it and thinking to myself, It does resemble a plane.’
Seberger concedes the silhouette also resembles a boat and Har-Noy, a senior director for DigitalGlobe said no one had conclusively found the plane yet.
One former US aviation official said that the images represent the first and only solid lead that matches the Boeing 777's original flight path.
'These images are the first solid piece of evidence we have that they were on the correct flight path,' said Peter Goelz, the former managing director of the US federal National Transportation Safety Board to CNN.
The US Navy will be deploying two navy vessels to the area, Commander William Marks told the cable news network.
'I think the size of the pieces ... everything we've heard... gives good cause to believe that we've now (refocused) the area,' former Federal Aviation Administration official Michael Goldfarb told CNN.
'And that's a huge relief to everybody ... I think it's a high chance that they're going to confirm that these (are) pieces of the wreckage.'
However, amidst the excitement that the mystery of flight MH370 could have been solved, Professor John Hansman, an aeronautics expert, told CNN that he had doubts the pieces were from the missing jet.
'There is no piece of an aircraft that is that big,' he said.
U.S. officials have been made aware of the satellite pictures and now will go back through its own stored satellite images to see if their satellites captured the same or similar images.
The search for the missing plane, which left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, has encompassed 35,800 square miles (92,600 square kilometers) of Southeast Asia and on Wednesday expanded toward India.
Two-thirds of the passengers on the flight were Chinese, and the Chinese government has put increasing pressure on Malaysian officials to find solve the mystery of the plane's disappearance.
Also, Wednesday, it was revealed that the last message from the cockpit of the missing flight was routine. 'All right, good night,' was the signoff transmitted to air traffic controllers five days ago.
Then the Boeing 777 vanished as it cruised over the South China Sea toward Vietnam, and nothing has been seen or heard of the jetliner since.
Those final words were picked up by controllers and relayed Wednesday in Beijing to anguished relatives of some of the 239 people aboard Flight MH370.
Malaysia's air force chief has denied saying military radar tracked a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner over the Strait of Malacca, adding to the mystery surrounding the fate of flight MH370, which vanished on Saturday with 239 people aboard
The new Chinese reports of the satellite images came after several days of sometimes confusing and conflicting statements from Malaysian officials.
Earlier Wednesday, the Malaysian military officially disclosed why it was searching on both sides of country: A review of military radar records showed what might have been the plane turning back and crossing westward into the Strait of Malacca.
That would conflict with the latest images on the Chinese website.
For now, authorities said the international search effort would stay focused on the South China Sea and the strait leading toward the Andaman Sea.
Tuesday: On March 11 a military source claimed the plane was tracked over the Strait of Malacca - before the release of the Chinese satellite imagery. Pictured are staff members at the rescue command office for the missing flight
Chinese impatience has grown.
'There's too much information and confusion right now. It is very hard for us to decide whether a given piece of information is accurate,' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing. 'We will not give it up as long as there's still a shred of hope.'
'We have nothing to hide,' said Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. 'There is only confusion if you want to see confusion.'
Flight MH370 disappeared from civilian radar screens at 1:30 a.m. Saturday at an altitude of about 35,000 feet above the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and southern Vietnam. It sent no distress signals or any indication it was experiencing problems.
The Malaysian government said it had asked India to join in the search near the Andaman Sea, suggesting the jetliner might have reached those waters after crossing into the Strait of Malacca, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) from the flight's last-known coordinates.
There were 12 countries involved in the search, with 42 ships and 39 aircraft scouring the waters and jungles of Southeast Asia
Searching in the wrong place? A handout photo released by the Indonesian Airforce on 12 March 2014 shows an airforce personnel during a search mission for a Malaysian Airlines aircraft on board of a military surveillance airplane over the Malacca straits
Malaysian officials met in Beijing with several hundred Chinese relatives of passengers to explain the search and investigation, and to relay the last transmission that Malaysian air traffic controllers received before the plane entered Vietnamese airspace, according to a participant in the meeting.
Aviation officials in Vietnam said they never heard from the plane.
Its sudden disappearance led to initial speculation of a catastrophic incident that caused it to disintegrate.
And as the satellite imagery was released of debris the missing Malaysian jetliner was at the centre of a new controversy last night after it was claimed that American aviation chiefs warned six months ago that a similar kind of Boeing plane was vulnerable to a mid-air break up.
As searchers headed for a possible crash site for doomed Flight MH370, it emerged that the US Federation Aviation Authority gave airlines a deadline to fix a potentially fatal flaw in Boeing 777 jets.
The FAA reportedly warned the planes could break apart and suffer a drastic loss in cabin pressure because of cracks in the fuselage.
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED?
A mid-air explosion: The lack of debris could be explained by it falling into Malaysian jungle.
A terrorist attack: Director of CIA has said terrorism could not be ruled out
Power failure: Possibly caused by deliberate cutting of power to communication instruments
Electronic warfare: 20 passengers on board were experts in this technology.
Hijacking: Radar data indicates the plane might have made a U-turn.
A pilot error: There is a chance of them in all air mysteries, claim experts
Structural failure: Possibly involving damage sustained by an accident in 2012
Pilot suicide: There were two large jet crashes in the late 1990s caused by this
Aeronautical black hole: Plane is stranded hundreds of miles from current search area
In the ‘airworthiness directive’ or ‘AD’, dated September 18 last year, airlines were given a deadline until until April 9 this year to ‘detect and correct cracking and corrosion in the fuselage skin’ underneath the airliner’s satellite communication antenna adaptor.
Failure to fix the alleged flaw could mean the aircraft would suffer ‘a rapid decompression and loss of structural integrity of the airplane.’
One airline reportedly found a 16 inch crack 'under the 3-bay SATCOM antenna adapter plate in the crown skin of the fuselage' on a 14-year-old airplane with approximately 14,000 total flight cycles.
Experts were speculating last night that a failure to correct the flaw could possibly be behind the plan’s disappearance with 239 people on board.
Analysts suggested that if the plane had lost pressure the pilots may have become disorientated and possibly flying off course, leading to the confusion over its whereabouts.
Another possibility is that it continued to fly despite a failure of its electrical systems, which could have knocked out communications, including transponders that enable the plane to be identified by commercial radar.
Authorities have not ruled out any possible cause, including mechanical failure, pilot error, sabotage and terrorism, and they are waiting to find any wreckage or debris to determine what went wrong.
A U.S. Navy SH-60R Seahawk helicopter takes off from the destroyer USS Pinckney in the Gulf of Thailand, to assist in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
In June 2013, Boeing issued a safety alert to Boeing 777 operators, telling them to inspect for corrosion and cracks in the crown fuselage around a satellite antenna.
The alert says one airline found a 16-inch crack in one plane, then checked other 777s and found more cracking.
WHY WERE THE IMAGES NOT RELEASED SOONER BY CHINA?
A Chinese scientist involved in the search for flight MH370 explained to the South China Morning Post that poor staff levels and low-levels of co-ordination hampered the discovery of the images.
Dr Chi Tianhe said that when the Boeing 777 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Saturday there were no Chinese satellites observing it.
In the days since, records have had to re-examined until the images of the debris were found and as a result 'Chinese satellites real-time surveillance capability will likely be strengthened after this incident,' said Chi, a professor with the academy's Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth in Beijing.
Chi said he regretted that while China does have enough satellites to check the area in question 24/7, the job would require a more dedicated staff.
'Cracks in the fuselage skin that are not found and repaired can propagate to the point where the fuselage skin structure cannot sustain limit load,' Boeing said. 'When the fuselage skin cannot sustain limit load, this can result in possible rapid decompression and loss of structural integrity.'
Two U.S. Federal Aviation Administration technical experts and a regional representative are in Kuala Lumpur as part of an NTSB team supporting the investigation. Experts in air traffic control and radar are providing technical help, the board said.
Hishammuddin described the multinational search as unprecedented. Some 43 ships and 39 aircraft from at least eight nations were scouring an area to the east and west of Peninsular Malaysia.
'It's not something that is easy. We are looking at so many vessels and aircraft, so many countries to coordinate, and a vast area for us to search,' he told a news conference. 'But we will never give up. This we owe to the families of those on board.'
Confusion over whether the plane had been seen flying west prompted speculation that different arms of the government might have different opinions about its location, or even that authorities were holding back information.
Earlier in the week, Malaysia's head of civil aviation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, was asked why the Strait of Malacca was being searched and replied, 'There are things I can tell you, and things I can't,' suggesting that the government wasn't being completely transparent.
If all those on board are confirmed dead, it would be the deadliest commercial air accident in 10 years.
Choi Tat Sang, a 74-year-old Malaysian, said his family is still holding out hope that the plane and all on board are safe.
His 45-year-old daughter-in-law, Goh Sock Lay, was the chief flight attendant. Her 14-year-old daughter, an only child, has been crying every day since the plane's disappearance.
'We are heartbroken. We are continuing to pray for her safety and for everyone on the flight,' he said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2579524/Chinese-satellite-finds-suspected-crash-site-Malaysian-Airlines-flight-370-South-China-Sea-did-three-days-release-them.html#ixzz2vnrqHxaq
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