Search area for MH370 will be unchanged by confirmation of debris

Search centre confident the discovery of the wing part consistent with search area

A Malaysian expert (centre) looks for debris from the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on a beach in Saint-Andre de la Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Photograph: Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images

A Malaysian expert (centre) looks for debris from the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on a beach in Saint-Andre de la Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Photograph: Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images

 

The Australian-led search for the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will continue scanning the seabed 2,000km west of the Western Australian coastline, despite confirmation a Boeing 777 flaperon found on Réunion Island last week belonged to the missing aircraft.

On Wednesday, the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (Jacc), which is overseeing the underwater search, said it was confident the discovery was consistent with the crash site being within the search area.

Réunion is about 4,000km from the search area, which was doubled to 120,000sq km in April. But the latest ocean drift modelling shows wreckage could be strewn anywhere between the search area and the shores of Madagascar.

“Drift modelling by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation shows that material from the current search area could have been carried to La Réunion, as well as other locations, as part of a progressive dispersal of floating debris through the action of ocean currents and wind,” the Jacc said.

Drift modelling

Once a piece of debris is found it will be tracked using the same modelling in an attempt to pinpoint the crash site. But the Jacc warned the more time that passed before debris was found, the less accurate it would be.

Point of origin

The Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, announced late on Wednesday the two-metre wing fragment was part of MH370: “Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts has conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris . . . is indeed MH370.”

The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, said the underwater search, which has so far cost more than 100 million Australian dollars, would continue. “We owe it to the hundreds of millions of people who use our skies . . . to try to ensure that air travel is as safe as it possibly can be, to try to get to the bottom of this terrible mystery,” he said.– (Guardian)