Australian agency believes it can locate
MH370 with 'unprecedented precision'
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[August 16, 2017]
By Tom Westbrook and Rozanna Latiff
SYDNEY/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Australia's
main scientific agency said on Wednesday it believed with "unprecedented
precision and certainty" that a missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft
crashed into the sea northeast of an area scoured in a fruitless
two-year underwater search.
The agency's assertion is based on satellite pictures taken two weeks
after Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on
board, on a flight to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala
But the Australian government rejected the conclusion of the
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO),
issued in a report on Wednesday, saying it was not specific enough.
The disappearance of the Boeing 777 has become one of the world's
greatest aviation mysteries. It is thought to have been diverted
thousands of miles off course out over the southern Indian Ocean before
crashing off the coast of Western Australia.
Australia, Malaysia and China called off a A$200 million ($160 million),
two-year search for the plane in January after finding nothing, despite
the protests of families of those onboard.
The CSIRO has previously raised doubts about the main 120,000-sq-km
underwater search zone, saying it believed the plane went down to the
north of it.
Its latest assertion was its most insistent yet and was based on a
review of satellite images provided by the French military intelligence
service and France's national space agency, CNES, which showed 70 pieces
of debris with a dozen of those "probably" man-made.
"We think it is possible to identify a most-likely location of the
aircraft, with unprecedented precision and certainty," the CSIRO said.
CSIRO oceanographer and the report's lead author, David Griffin, told
Reuters by telephone that if the debris spotted in the pictures was
authentic, then it supported previous ocean-drift analysis pointing to a
crash zone just to the north of the area that was most thoroughly
"It all fits together so perfectly, the only thing missing is proof that
those actually are pieces of plane," Griffin said.
Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for the airliner but has
said that would depend on finding credible evidence about the plane's
Australian transport minister Darren Chester said the new analysis "does
not provide new evidence leading to a specific location of MH370".
[to top of second column]
A woman leaves a message of support and hope for the passengers of
the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March
16, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo
Malaysia's deputy transport minister Aziz Kaprawi declined to
comment on the agency's report, saying that he was awaiting further
information from Australian authorities.
But he said Malaysia has not given up on the search and it had
called for a meeting with Australian and Chinese authorities to
discuss an offer from a private seabed exploration firm, Ocean
Infinity, to resume the search.
"No decision has been made but we are definitely considering a new
search. We will seek input from our counterparts," he told Reuters.
Malaysia said this month Ocean Infinity had offered to search for
free, and would seek payment only if the aircraft was found. A
company spokesman declined to comment.
The company says on its website it has the world's most advanced
fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles for seabed mapping, survey
Australia and Malaysia earlier rejected investigators'
recommendations to extend the hunt by 25,000 sq km (9,653 square
miles) north of the original search area, saying the location
identified was too imprecise.
Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off
MH370's transponder before diverting it over the Indian Ocean.
Various pieces of debris have been collected from Indian Ocean
islands and Africa's east coast and at least three of them have been
confirmed as coming from the missing plane.
CSIRO said some of objects spotted in the pictures were "comparable
with some of the debris items that have washed up on African
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY and Rozanna Latiff in KUALA
LUMPUR.; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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