Report: Missing Malaysian Plane Flew Faster than Previously Thought, Shifting Search Area
Numerous reports from Malaysian and Australian authorities show that the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been narrowed down and shifted to several hundred miles closer to the city of Perth, Australia. New evidence suggests the plane was flying faster than previously anticipated, shortening its voyage.
According to the BBC, Malaysian authorities announced early this morning that the search area would be moved about 700 miles closer to Australia than the previously delineated search area, which was more than 1,500 miles from Perth, the closest land area to those waters. Authorities attributed the search to a "new credible lead" which led them to believe that the plane was flying faster than previously anticipated, which would shorten the amount of time the plane was in the air.
Authorities did not expand upon what that "new credible lead" was, and made the decision not to have a daily briefing for the first time since the early days of the plane's disappearance. Search operations had been halted early Thursday by inclement weather, which had made it impossible for international search teams to reach the icy waters more than a thousand miles from any land that had become the focal point of the international search. The Wall Street Journal reports that Australian officials have assured the public that they expect more convenient weather in the new search area.
In a press conference broadcast from Australia on CNN late Thursday night, Australian Maritime Safety Authority General Director John Young briefed the press on where the new search area was and why they had chosen it, though without specifics: new information triggered a reevaluation of the speed of the aircraft. Young noted that the radar evidence reduced the possible distance that the plane flew in the ocean, which would necessitate a new range of territory in which the plane could have fallen. Young added that the United States had provided technology meant to help more easily find the plane's black boxes.
Earlier this week, Malaysian acting transportation minister Hishammuddin Hussein informed the public that the government had found evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Flight 370 had crashed in the southeastern Indian Ocean and left no survivors. That conclusion was based on several sightings of debris on satellite imagery that appeared to be from the missing flight, from Chinese, French, and other independent radar. Given the lack of information on hand, relatives of the passengers on Flight 370 in Beijing organized a protest at the Malaysian embassy in the Chinese capital against the Malaysian government for being too cautious about sharing information with the relatives.