Skip to main content

MH370: New object sightings fuel hopes as search resumes

By Faith Karimi, Steve Almasy and KJ Kwon, CNN
March 31, 2014 -- Updated 0137 GMT (0937 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Australian Prime Minister: "If this mystery is solvable, we will solve it"
  • Search for plane resumes; 10 aircraft and 10 boats involved
  • No confirmed plane debris sightings, though four interesting orange objects are seen
  • Australian crew calls new objects one of their "most promising leads"

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) -- New hope, more frustration.

As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 turned up fresh potential clues, dozens of anguished Chinese relatives on Sunday demanded that Malaysia provide them with evidence on the fate of their loved ones aboard the missing Boeing 777.

Ideal weather conditions gave one Australian aircraft crew the opportunity to detect many objects in the water west of Perth.

It spotted four orange items of interest, took photos and sent the coordinates, but Flight Lt. Russell Adams said the crew couldn't determine whether the objects were from the airliner, which officials believe went down in the southern Indian Ocean.

'If mystery is solvable, we'll solve it'
Search team reports 'promising leads'
First look at objects found by ship
On June 26, the Joint Agency Coordination Center released a map showing the new search area for flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. On June 26, the Joint Agency Coordination Center released a map showing the new search area for flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

The items were more than 2 meters (6.5 feet) long, he said.

Authorities will analyze the images and then decide whether to send a ship to the debris location.

Adams called the discovery of the four objects one of the "most promising leads" searchers have come across.

The search resumed Monday, with 10 aircraft and 10 boats set to look for signs of the missing plane.

"We are searching a vast area of ocean, and we are working on quite limited information. Nevertheless, the best brains in the world are applying themselves to this task. ... If this mystery is solvable, we will solve it," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters Monday.

Speaking from the Royal Australian Air Force base where search teams have been headquartered, Abbott said he wouldn't set a time frame for how long the hunt for the missing plane could take.

"We can keep searching for quite some time to come. We will keep searching for quite some time to come. ... The intensity of our search and the magnitude of our operations is increasing, not decreasing," he said.

Search efforts Sunday ended with no confirmed sightings of debris from the plane, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

Objects picked up by ships on Saturday turned out to be fishing equipment and other items, officials said.

'We want truth'

The family members arrived in Kuala Lumpur and held a news conference at their hotel, imploring officials to be more transparent.

"We want evidence, we want truth and we want our family," said Jiang Hui, the families' designated representative. The crowd chanted the same words.

"We are here to call for the following three things," he said. "First, the Malaysian side should provide us with timely and comprehensive evidence and answer the families' questions."

He also asked Malaysia to apologize for releasing confusing information and for announcing on March 24 that the plane had crashed even though there was no "direct evidence."

Relatives wore white T-Shirts with the words " Pray for MH370 ... return home safely." Some wept.

"We are here struck with sadness and urgency," Jiang said. "The meetings recently in China were not fruitful with (Malaysia Airlines) officials."

Mixed messages

Family members have accused Malaysian officials of withholding information since the plane vanished more than three weeks ago.

Of the 239 people aboard the doomed jetliner, 154 were Chinese.

Last week, relatives were told everyone aboard had died. But Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia's acting transportation minister, told reporters Saturday he had not closed the door on the hope that there could be survivors.

Flight attendant's husband wants to give children answers, but has none

Frustrating search

Beijing has publicly slammed Malaysia's efforts to find the Boeing 777, which went missing March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

And as the frustrating three-week search resumed Monday, China was among the countries scouring the choppy waters of the southern Indian Ocean for signs of the plane.

Ten aircraft were set to fly over the search area about 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) west of Perth, Australian officials said.

Ten ships were also involved in the search, including the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield, which was fitted with a "black box" detector and an autonomous underwater vehicle.

On Saturday, crew members aboard a Chinese plane dropped buoys to mark three suspected debris sites, China's state-run CCTV reported. It later said Sunday an orange "suspicious object" spotted by a Chinese plane Saturday turned out to be a dead jellyfish.

Amid the confusion, Malaysia said it has done its best with what it has.

"History will judge us as a country that has been very responsible," Hishammuddin said.

Relatives said they hope to meet the transport minister in Kuala Lumpur. They also asked Malaysia to plan meetings with the various companies involved, including Boeing, the plane's manufacturer.

Race against time

Malaysian officials under fire
New details in Flight 370 search
Partner: My world is upside down
Missing Malaysia flight stirs old memories

Experts said the clock is ticking.

The batteries on the flight data recorder, commonly referred to as the black box, are designed to last about 30 days. The plane disappeared March 8 -- 22 days ago.

"We certainly have our challenges in front of us," said Cmdr. Mark Matthews of the U.S. Navy.

"What we're trying to find is an acoustic emission from one of the pingers on the flight data recorder (and) the cockpit voice recorder. Typically these last, the batteries last about 30 days, usually they last a little bit longer, and that's what we're trying to find. But what is critical is that the teams that are out there searching for the surface debris, they get good position data on that and they feed it back to the oceanographers, to help us determine a probable point of impact for where the aircraft went in."

An American pinger locator and undersea search equipment were loaded onto the Ocean Shield. The ship is set to depart by Monday morning, and will take up to three days to reach the search area.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. William Marks told CNN's "State of the Union" that his team really needs a conclusive piece of debris to narrow down the search area, due to the range of the pinger locator.

"We have to be careful not to send it in the wrong place, but we also wanted to get it out there as close as we can to what we believe is the right place," he told CNN's Candy Crowley.

He said if the batteries on the recorders aboard the missing plane run out, the search would require side-scan sonar, one of which has been loaded on a search ship.

"But like I said, without good visual confirmation of debris, which we really have not had yet, it is tough to even go in the general direction," he said.

'They're still alive'

In Beijing on Saturday, some of the relatives of the missing vented their anguish in the streets.

"They're all still alive, my son and everyone on board!" yelled Wen Wancheng, 63, whose only son was among the passengers. "The plane is still there, too! They're hiding it."

He held aloft a banner that read: "Son, Mom and Dad's hearts are torn to pieces. Come home soon!"

Relatives implored Hishammuddin to redouble efforts to find the plane.

"What they want is a commitment on our part to continue the search, and that I have given," Hishammuddin said. "For me, as the minister responsible, this is the hardest part of my life, at the moment," he told reporters.

"Miracles do happen, remote or otherwise, and that is the hope that the families want me to convey -- not only to the Malaysian government, MAS (Malaysia Airlines), but also to the world at large," he said.

Sea objects

The latest data analysis shows Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended up in the southern Indian Ocean.

But officials have offered different assessments of exactly where it could have gone down.

Investigators shifted the search area Friday after concluding that the plane had been traveling faster and burning fuel faster than they previously had thought.

The new search area is closer to Australia's coast, so it takes less time to reach, meaning more area can be searched. It's also marked by calmer waters.

Your questions answered

CNN's Kyung Lah, Mitra Mobasherat, Brian Walker, Yuli Yang and Paula Hancocks contributed to this report. KJ Kwon reported from Kuala Lumpur; and Steve Almasy and Faith Karimi wrote from Atlanta.

Part of complete coverage on
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 2211 GMT (0611 HKT)
The search for MH370 is moving to an area farther south in the Indian Ocean, said the Australian Deputy Prime Minister.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 0033 GMT (0833 HKT)
Erin Burnett speaks to Miles O'Brien about the latest in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Ten experts say that the search for MH370 should move hundreds of miles away from the previous search area.
June 17, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
His wife never came home from her flight on MH370, and now K.S. Narendran is left to imagine the worst of possible truths without knowing.
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Families are desperate for results as the search for MH370 reaches a grim milestone. Anna Coren reports from Beijing.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
Relatives of passengers are launching an effort to raise $5 million for investigations and a "whistle blower" reward.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 0731 GMT (1531 HKT)
Making sure another plane is never "lost" again is the immediate priority for the airline industry.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1536 GMT (2336 HKT)
This handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 9, 2014 by Australian Defence shows Maritime Warfare Officer, Sub Lieutenant Ryan Penrose watching HMAS Success as HMAS Perth approaches for a replenishment at sea while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. Two fresh signals have been picked up Australian ship Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, raising hopes that wreckage will be found within days even as black box batteries start to expire.
Was the sound of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 striking the water captured by ocean devices used to listen for signs of nuclear blasts?
May 28, 2014 -- Updated 2229 GMT (0629 HKT)
What was believed to be the best hope of finding the missing plane is now being called a false hope. Rene Marsh explains.
May 28, 2014 -- Updated 2105 GMT (0505 HKT)
Involved parties, including the manufacturer Boeing, are bracing for a long public relations siege.
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
Official: The four acoustic pings at the center of the search for Flight 370 are no longer believed to have come from the plane's black boxes.
May 27, 2014 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
There is one fundamental question which continues to swirl: Has Inmarsat got its numbers right?
May 27, 2014 -- Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT)
Data from communications between satellites and missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 was released
May 27, 2014 -- Updated 0742 GMT (1542 HKT)
Family members of the people aboard missing plane want independent investigators to review the newly released satellite data.
May 21, 2014 -- Updated 1147 GMT (1947 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest explains what kind of information should be contained in the Inmarsat data from Flight MH370.
May 27, 2014 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will effectively be put on hold this week, and may not resume until August at the earliest.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Movie-makers in Cannes have announced they're making a thriller based on the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.
May 6, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
The search for the missing Boeing 777 has gone on for eight weeks now. CNN's David Molko looks back at this difficult, emotional assignment.
ADVERTISEMENT