MH370: Something in the Water…

From the Washington Post:

Australia’s prime minister said Thursday that objects related to a missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet have been possibly spotted in the southern Indian Ocean as a U.S. Navy plane that can search under water was shifted to remote waters 1,800 miles west of that country.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the Australian Parliament in Canberra that the objects were spotted on satellite imagery, in what could be a potential break in the 13-day search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. An Australian air force surveillance plane has been diverted to that area in an attempt to locate the objects, the Associated Press reported.

Abbott said that “new and credible information has come to light” in relation to the search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean and after specialist analysis of satellite imagery, “two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”

But the prime minister added: “The task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out they are not related to the search for MH370.”…

Formal media release [pdf] here.

37 replies
  1. 1
    trollhattan says:

    Let’s hope. The families deserve answers and the rest of us would like some, too.

  2. 2
    srv says:

    They should shut up until they’ve recovered the debris.

  3. 3
    Amir Khalid says:

    This is an interesting point I hadn’t considered: until it’s known for sure where the plane is, a formal investigation cannot be initiated.

    ETA: weather in the current search area is reported to be “moderate” (that must mean it’s not the best) and visibility is poor. It might be a while before they find those objects spotted by the satellite.

  4. 4
    🍀 Martin says:

    They’re reporting that two planes are now on the scene (one US, one Aus) and no new reports have come back. Not looking good.

  5. 5
    🍀 Martin says:

    And CNN has gone the full Kavuto. “Plane Found?”

    Fuck you, CNN.

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @🍀 Martin: BREAKING NEWS

    Leslie Blitzer reports that the Balloon Boy is hovering over MH370 debris at this very moment, no matter what his own on-the-air experts say.


  7. 7
    J.Ty says:

    Why are any of you watching TV news right now? I’m refreshing the Guardian liveblog while watching reruns of Community, it’s much more pleasant.

  8. 8
    Elizabelle says:

    When I first heard “Breaking News” out of Perth, Australia, I assumed it would be footage of a grieving Mick Jagger and band boarding the Rolling Stones’ jet to return to the US.

    Their plane, with its red-lipped livery, has been sitting on the tarmac in Perth for days.

    Charlie Watts played an impromptu jazz drum set at a local club Wednesday.

    And the jet may still remain on the runway.

  9. 9
    Elizabelle says:


    Checking out the Guardian now.

    I hope they have found the missing plane, for the families’ and friends’ sake. Closure, but not what they wanted, either.

  10. 10
    J.Ty says:

    @Elizabelle: Probably won’t be closure until the ‘why’ and ‘how’ is found, unfortunately… but nailing down the ‘what’ and ‘where’ should be a big help for them.

  11. 11
    MikeJ says:

    They saw something floating in the ocean on a satellite picture. Meanwhile, parts of Japan are still washing up on the shores of Washington years after the tsunami. I’ll believe they really have something when they actually recover it.

    Who knows, maybe it’s part of the Varig 707 that was lost in the Pacfic in 1979.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MikeJ: Heck, it could be something from Skylab. No one knows, but it’s a lead of some sort.

  13. 13
    MikeJ says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I wonder if they’ll ever release the pictures. To have any sort of confidence that it was wreckage and not just random ocean garbage you would need to use a level of zoom not available on commercial sats and they may not want to show their capabilities.

  14. 14
    J.Ty says:

    @MikeJ: Guardian’s most recent update (as of this writing) has some pics. Not high-res or anything though…

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MikeJ: They’ve already hinted that they can indeed resolve the images to that level of detail, but to make it definitive, by releasing photos…well, probably not, as you’ve written.

  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:


    I hold out hope for Amelia Earhart’s missing airplane!

    MSNBC has the big dogs up. Brian Williams on the phone at O dark hundred.

    I hope they can figure out what brought this plane down, to make commercial aviation even safer. The 777 is considered to be an extremely safe airliner.

  17. 17
    Elizabelle says:


    Yeah. Egg on everyone’s face if these are huge shipping containers or other debris that fell off a vessel.

  18. 18
    J.Ty says:

    I’m actually terrified of flying and the 777 is my favorite one to fly on. Really hoping it wasn’t a mechanical thing… for selfish reasons obviously. Yikes.

  19. 19
    🍀 Martin says:

    @J.Ty: It wasn’t mechanical. That much is all but certain from the chain of events.

  20. 20
    J.Ty says:

    @🍀 Martin: I dunno, there was that blog post that everybody loved for 12 hours and then started hating again about the electrical fire…

    But yeah, who the hell knows.

  21. 21
    taras says:

    this is straight bullshit. I can almost guarantee they are only gonna find whatever the fuck they planted there. This is either a new Bermuda Triangle area or an alien abduction. Watch when they start asking “next of kin” to identify their loved ones’ belongings. The tv cameras will be set to hi def and those people will put on a performance of historical histrionic proportion. Of course, those nok’s will have already received their grief counseling at foggy bottom. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t, turn this into a terrorist hi-jacking story and then they will claim the (most likely american) heroes on board overwhelmed the terrorists and crashed the plane in the ocean before it could be crashed into a Russian orphanage filled to the brim with little, laughing blonde children
    the machine is already creaking into action, this morning matt lauer had breaking news that the pilots had deleted some files from their computer. I’ll bet there’s more than a few child pornographers sitting in prison, prior to face palming, saying, “hold on just a second, you mean we can delete files from our computers.!?”

  22. 22
    OGLiberal says:

    @MikeJ: What always drives me crazy about this is that we – Joe/Jane Schmoes – all know that they can resolve these images much better than what they release to the public. Every other government knows that as well…and probably have hard evidence of this. I’m sure the Aussies have some pretty good imagery….Just release the hi-res…nobody will be shocked, nobody will steal your secrets, nobody will use this info to invade.

    Or say, “here’s the stuff we can let you see…on the stuff I just looked at I can see Malaysian Airlines markers on the danged thing”,

    And if you want to be sensitive to the families until you absolutely confirm – completely understandable – then tell Anderson Cooper to effing wait – don’t release anything – not even low-res garbage.

    If you really aren’t sure, then don’t say freaking anything until you confirm either way.

  23. 23
    Elizabelle says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    Explain, re it wasn’t mechanical? Are you meaning because the plane flew for hours?

    But couldn’t there have been an onboard fire?

    Not being argumentative; actually having a cocktail, since insomniac tonight, and tired.

  24. 24
    OGLiberal says:

    @Elizabelle: Probably still is the safest. Timeline and evidence released point towards an intentional act – difficult to prevent that, especially if it was a member of the crew. Even if the fire on board/depressurization that killed everybody on board scenario is true – and if this “debris” is the plane – that emmer effer flew for 6+ hours without a crew after suffering a failure that killed everybody on board, including the dudes flying the thing – that’s quite a plane if it could do that

  25. 25
    J.Ty says:

    @Elizabelle: Modern autopilots are pretty great, but explaining all of the existing info from a single mechanical failure seems pretty hard–not impossible, but it’d require something that hadn’t happened before to happen. Which is also not unheard of.

  26. 26
    Elizabelle says:


    Thank you. I can’t tell whether it was an intentional act or not, so do hope they find the wreckage and recorders and eventually solve what can be known of this mystery.

    What does OG stand for?

  27. 27
    David Koch says:

    ABC’s correspondent David Wright, who is on board the aircraft, says the crew told him that the radar indicates that “there is something down there.” But ABC cautioned that it is still too early to tell if the radar hits are related to the missing plane.

    The flight crew on the Poseidon say they’re getting radar hits of “significant size,” indicating something lying below the water’s surface, ABC News reported Thursday.

  28. 28
    MikeJ says:

    Bigger versions of the pics:

    They better have enhanced versions.

    BTW, one of those “objects” is 24m long, about 1/3rd the total length of a 777.

  29. 29
    J.Ty says:

    “Scores of police and at least 5 ambulances just arrived at hotel where #MH370 families waiting [in beijing]”

  30. 30
    OGLiberal says:

    @David Koch: If detectable that “easily”, they’ll get the boxes soon and we’ll find out a lot more about what happened. I do, however, remain skeptical after so many false alarms and conflicting info.

  31. 31
    Elizabelle says:

    James Fallows posts briefly re Australians’ possible findings.

    He says he hopes not to post again on MH 370 until something more definitive is known, and takes the usual suspects to task for making hay of this tragedy (whatever turns out to be the full story).

    Insanity watch: I hope someone will look back on this and similar episodes for revealing lessons about individuals’ and institutions’ reactions in the face of mystery and uncertainty.
    Terrorism experts have immediately traced this to terrorism; Rupert Murdoch said one day after the flight’s disappearance that the episode “confirms” a new jihadist attack on China. Last night Michael Oren, who until recently was Israel’s ambassador to the United States, was soberly warning on CNN that the plane could well be headed for Israel on an attack mission. Cable news experts have been absolutely sure of one explanation one day, and sure of another the next.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    NYTimes from yesterday, before Australian report:

    WASHINGTON — Even if searchers are fortunate enough to spot floating debris in the ocean west of Australia from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, it would be only a modest step in locating the rest of the Boeing 777, according to oceanographers and recovery experts. And only then could they dig into the question of why it crashed.

    Almost two weeks after a crash, there is certain to be less of the debris on the surface, and what remains is more dispersed and farther from the clues that investigators really want, in the wreckage that has sunk beneath the waves, experts say.

    The delay in finding any wreckage on the surface will “create a cone of uncertainty, which is going to be bigger with time,” said Luca Centurioni, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego and the director of the Global Drifter Program there. “The more time goes by, the more difficult it will be to try to go back to the point of impact with the ocean.”

    The AF 447 wreckage turned out to be 30 miles from debris sighted five days after its crash.

    It’s estimated median ocean currents can carry debris 16 miles a day.

  33. 33
    debbie says:

    I’m sure it’s too ordinary for some posters I’ve read here, but I’m thinking this is the answer:

  34. 34
    gvg says:

    @debbie: That one has already been overturned. Something about the last radio contact was first officer saying everything fine but it was 12 minutes after plane made turn and 5 after transponder (?) was turned off. Not sure that is exactly right because I am now very confused but it was something like that. Check backwards in some of these threads for a couple of links on it. Yesterday I think.

  35. 35
    debbie says:


    Sorry to know that. Between the alien abduction and hiding-plane-for-the-next-911 theories, this one really seemed solid. Thanks.

  36. 36
    Andrew says:

    You can most easily tell that this is crap because it was said by Tony Abbott.

    Seriously. We don’t get to laugh any more at you guys for having elected George W. Bush. We’ve got our own idiot king now.

  37. 37
    DaveInOz says:

    Unfortunately this is more about Tony Abbott than the missing plane. he’s desperate to make a name for himself on the world stage and this announcement was all about getting attention. There’s no reason why an operational person couldn’t have made the announcement.

    I hope they find the plane but there’s no certainty that what was seen on the satellite image was wreckage from the missing plane which would have had to remain afloat for 12 days.

    On the bright side for Tony Abbott, he has received praise from Rick Santorum!

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