Malaysia Live: Wooden pallet, other plane debris spotted in Indian ocean?

12.30 pm: Wooden pallet, other plane debris spotted in Indian ocean?

Planes and a ship scrambled Sunday to find a pallet and other debris in a remote patch of the southern Indian Ocean to determine whether the objects were from the Malaysia Airlines jet that has been missing for more than two weeks.

The pallet was spotted by a search plane Saturday, but has not been closely examined. Wooden pallets are commonly used in shipping, but can also be used on planes.

Mike Barton, chief of Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s ‘s rescue coordination center, told reporters in Canberra, Australia, that the wooden pallet spotted by a civilian search aircraft was surrounded by several other nondescript objects, including what appeared to be strapping belts of different colors and lengths.

malaysianjet_small5 Malaysia Live: Wooden pallet, other plane debris spotted in Indian ocean?

It was not immediately known if any pallets were used on Flight 370 that disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board.

A New Zealand Orion P3 plane tried to find it, but failed, Barton said.

“So, we’ve gone back to that area again today to try and re-find it,” he said. A merchant ship also was sent to try to identify the material.

8.45 am: More planes have joined search after Chinese satellites are believed to have spotted images of possible debris from MH370 

More planes were joining the search Sunday of a remote patch of the southern Indian Ocean after China released a satellite image showing a large object floating in the search zone, reports Associated Press. The Chinese satellite images are close to the location where Australia was also searching for the missing plane.

Currently the search area in the Indian Ocean is about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, Australia. Australia’s search did not reveal any object.  Sunday’s search involving eight aircraft has been split into two areas within the same proximity covering 59,000 square kilometers (22,800 square miles), reports Associated Press.

These areas have been determined by drift modelling, the AMSA said.

8.00 am: China investigating new images of possible, says Malaysia Minister

Chinese satellites have spotted new debris images close to the search area where Australia’s search operation was also location. According to Malaysian Defence Minister and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, “Chinese ships have been dispatched to the area. Beijing is expected to make an announcement in a few hours.”

One of the objects was very large, measuring 22.5 metres (74 feet) by 13 metres (42 feet), the ministry said in a statement, correcting the minister’s earlier statistics of 22 metres by 30 metres.

End of updates for 22 March
8.52 pm: British daily publishes final communication from MH 370

The final 54 minutes of communication between the pilots of the missing Malaysian plane and air traffic control has been published by a British newspaper, but Malaysia described it as inaccurate.

The Daily Telegraph published what it said was the transcript of communications between the pilots and Malaysian air control, although it appeared to throw little light on the reasons for the disappearance.

Department of Civil Aviation Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said, “The transcript between the pilots and air traffic control with the investigation team and is being analysed, but it cannot be publicly released.”

He said that the transcript of the final 54 minutes of communication did not “indicate anything abnormal”. The transcript published by the Telegraph “is not accurate”.

The Telegraph claimed that though the sequence of messages appear to be the routine ones, two potentially odd moments have been found.

Earlier, Defence and Transport Minister Hishammuddin Husein said transcript of the conversation was released yesterday to investigators.

4:30 pm: Suspicious object spotted by Chinese satellite was floating 120 kms from possible debris

A suspicious object spotted by a Chinese satellite was floating 120 km (72 miles) from possible debris announced by Australia in the search for a missing Malaysian jet, the official Xinhua news agency said, Reuters reported.

“The location of the suspicious object is along the southern corridor missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 might have taken,” it said, adding the object was spotted on 18 March, two days after the satellite image announced by Australia.

4:02 pm: Norwegian firm that helped search for Air France jet says ready to help with MH370

Swire Seabed, a Bergen-based Norwegian company involved in the search for a missing Air France jetliner nearly five years back, has said it is ready to join a similar hunt aimed at locating the Malaysian airliner that went missing a fortnight back.

“It takes time to search for objects on the seabed. For example, it will take about three weeks to perform a search operation in an area of 1,000 sq km, depending on water depth,” said Frode Gaupaas, chief operating officer of Swire Seabed, IANS reported.

“We are ready to join the search if we are asked about it,” Xinhua quoted him as telling the Aftenposten, a Norwegian-language newspaper.

The company owns one of the few mini-submarines that can dive 6,000 metres deep in the sea.

The vessel, Seabed Worker, which was used in the search for an Air France plane in the Atlantic, would be shipped to Australia when requested, said Gaupaas

Describing deep sea search as highly specialized, Gaupaas said that all available data — maps, photographs, wind and weather — must be collected and analysed to assess the most likely position of the aircraft.

Side-scan sonar and autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) are often employed for locating objects on the seabed.

Mini-submarines can film findings in real time and use remote controlled arms (robot arms) to highlight parts of a crashed plane, said Gaupaas.

“If you have made a discovery of the wreckage, the first priority is to find and raise the flight data recorders and other parts that may be significant to find out what happened to the plane,” said Gaupaas.