Chinese team sight wreckage "compatible" with missing flight MH370
Kuala Lumpur ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Chinese aircraft - engaged in search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 - has spotted the presence of wrecks "compatible" with the Boeing 777 that disappeared from radar on 8 March. The plane was on patrol in the area indicated in recent days by Australians satellites. According to reports from Chinese state agency Xinhua, researchers have identified two "relatively large" objects with "several other smaller objects scattered within a radius of several kilometers". This is the first case of "real" sighting, not only based on satellite observations.
Several countries, including China and Australia, with the help of satellites had already traced the presence of debris in the area where search operations are concentrated, about 2,500 km off the coast of Australia. A dozen aircraft are patrolling the southern Indian Ocean, part of an international task force including among others China, Australia, Japan and the United States in the patrol area spanning almost 69 thousand km2.
The last sighting was made this morning by a Chinese patrol aboard military aircraft IL-76. The crew indicated the sighting to the Australian maritime authorities (AMSA) - in charge of search coordination - while the icebreaker Xue Long is heading to the area. However, the weather conditions are worsening - weather experts report the arrival of a hurricane - and could represent a further major obstacle in the identification of the debris.
In the hours immediately following the disappearance of flight MH370, at first it was thought that the plane had crashed. But in the following days the Malaysian government announced that the aircraft radar tracks were received for seven more hours after the airplane has changed direction, turning to the west. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy Command stationed in the Pacific ordered the use of a machine specialized in finding the black box. This is a "precautionary measure" adopted in case the recent sightings result well founded.
The missing Boeing 777-200 carried 239 people, including a crew of 12, disappearing over the sea, just south of Vietnam. The passenger list included 153 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, as well as some Australians, Europeans and Americans. Malaysia Airlines has had a good safety record, with nearly four decades without an accident. Its worst accident occurred in 1977 when one accident left 100 people dead. In recent years, the company lost revenues due to the competition from low-cost airlines, including Air Asia, another Malaysia-based company. Every day, Malaysia's national carrier flies nearly 37,000 passengers to some 80 destinations worldwide.