It has been a grueling three weeks for the families, the search teams, and the others involved in this unprecedented aviation disaster with the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Malaysian authorities say the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean. Search efforts are concentrated in an area far off Australia’s west coast. The first search area started in the southern part of the Indian Ocean, approximately 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, AU.
However, after a more detailed and calculated search, the first suspected area has changed. The new area is to the north by nearly 700 miles. Search teams have found quite a few new objects, but whether the debris is connected to the to the Boeing 777 is still undetermined.
The change in the search area is based on radar and satellite data, and further mathematical calculations indicating that investigators believe the plane was traveling faster than initially thought in the early part of its flight. Because of that, it burned through more fuel than first believed, hence the 700 miles north of the ‘previously assumed’ crash site.
Meaning that authorities have concluded that it could not have traveled as far south as they once thought.
Early Friday, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that as a result of ocean drift, the new search area “could still be consistent” with various objects spotted earlier by satellites. The objects that were initially spotted came from satellite data by China, France, the U.S., and later Imnarsat.
Chinese plane spots 3 new floating objects that could be missing Malaysian plane http://t.co/MVWRFzV1dC
— The Windsor Star (@TheWindsorStar) March 29, 2014
However, Australia has a different view of the search area:
“In regards to the old areas, we have not seen any debris,” said John Young, general manager of emergency response for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
“And I would not wish to classify any of the satellite imagery as debris, nor would I want to classify any of the few visual sightings that we made as debris. That’s just not justifiable from what we have seen.”
But in contrast to the first search area, which could only be flown over a couple of hours each trip due to the 4 hour flight to the area, Australian officials say the new search area is closer to land and in a gentler region of ocean, making for longer, safer and more consistent searches.
But it’s still a huge area at 123,000 square miles and will take some time to search.
“We’re kind of starting from square one with a whole new search and a whole new set of premises,” CNN aviation analyst Jeff Wise said Friday.
Family members are in agony as they wait for answers, many displaying emotional outbursts picked up by cameras.
“My heart can’t handle it. I don’t want to hurt my children,” Cheng Li Ping told CNN as she waited in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for evidence about what happened to her husband.
Although as of Saturday, debris spotted in the new area should be retrieved in the very near future, but nothing is concrete as to where Malaysian Flight 370 is, or where it ended up.
Image via YouTube