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    Showing posts with label Indian Ocean. Show all posts

    China spots new possible plane debris in southern Indian Ocean

    China said on Saturday it had a new satellite image of what could be wreckage from a missing Malaysian airliner, as more planes and ships headed to join an international search operation scouring some of the remotest seas on Earth.
    The latest possible lead came as the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 entered its third week, with still no confirmed trace found of the Boeing 777 or the 239 people on board.

    The new potential sighting was dramatically announced by Malaysia's acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, after he was handed a note with details during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, scooping the official announcement from China.

    "Chinese ships have been dispatched to the area," Hishammuddin told reporters. China said the object was 74 feet long and 43 feet wide, and spotted around 75 miles "south by west" of potential debris reported by Australia off its west coast in the forbidding waters of the southern Indian Ocean.

    The image was captured by the high-definition Earth observation satellite "Gaofen-1" early on March 18, two days after the Australian satellite picture was taken, China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said on its website.

    It could not easily be determined from the blurred images whether the objects were the same, but the Chinese photograph could depict a cluster of smaller objects, a senior military officer from one of the 26 nations involved in the search for the plane said.
    The wing of a Boeing 777-200ER is approximately 27 metres long and 14 metres wide at its base, according to estimates derived from publicly available scale drawings. Its fuselage is 63.7 meters long by 6.2 meters wide.

    Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens early on March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on a scheduled flight to Beijing.

    Investigators believe someone on board shut off the plane's communications systems, and partial military radar tracking showed it turning west and re-crossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.

    That has led them to focus on hijacking or sabotage, but they have not ruled out technical problems.

    Since Australia announced the first image of what could be parts of the aircraft on Thursday, the international search for the plane has focused on an expanse of ocean more than 2,000 km (1,200 miles) southwest of Perth.

    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said one of its aircraft reported sighting a number of "small objects" with the naked eye, including a wooden pallet, within a radius of 5 km.

    A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft took a closer look but only reported seeing clumps of seaweed. It dropped a marker buoy to track the movement.

    "A merchant ship in the area has been tasked to relocate and seek to identify the material," AMSA said in a statement.

    The search area experienced good weather conditions on Saturday with visibility of around 10 km and moderate seas.

    Australia, which is coordinating the rescue, has cautioned the objects in the satellite image might be a lost shipping container or other debris, and may have sunk since the picture was taken.

    "Even though this is not a definite lead, it is probably more solid than any other lead around the world and that is why so much effort and interest is being put into this search," Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters, before latest Chinese image was reported.

    Indonesia Earthquake: Tsunami Warnings Lifted After Major Aftershock

    A 8.6-magnitude earthquake and powerful aftershocks struck off Indonesia on Wednesday, sending people scurrying from shaking buildings in several countries and raising fears of a disastrous tsunami.

    Tsunami alerts were issued across the entire Indian Ocean, although they were later lifted.

    The U.S. Geological Survey said that the initial quake happened about 14 miles beneath the ocean floor and 270 miles from Banda Aceh, the provincial capital of Aceh, at 2:38 p.m. local time (4:38 a.m. ET).

    Reuters reported that the tremors were felt in Thailand, Singapore and southern India.

    The quake struck in a similar location to the 9.1-magnitude tremor on Dec. 26, 2004, that triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean, killing almost 230,000 people.

    An 8.2-magnitude aftershock hit at 6:43 a.m. ET, the USGS said. Fresh tsunami alerts were issued as a result. Several other smaller temblors, of between 5.1 and 5.7-magnitude, were recorded in the same area between 5:51 a.m. ET and 8:10 a.m. ET.

    For real-time alerts and updates, see BreakingNews.com

    'The threat has diminished'
    Individual countries, including Kenya, issued tsunami warnings for their Indian Ocean coastlines.

    The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch -- an alert category one level below a warning -- for the entire Indian Ocean area but later canceled it.

    "Level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished or is over for most areas,'' it said.
    It posted a series of estimated arrival times for tsunami waves for potentially affected areas, saying that if no major waves had happened two hours after those times then “local authorities can assume the threat is passed.”

    “As local conditions can cause a wide variation in tsunami wave action, the all-clear determination must be made by local authorities,” the warning center said.

    Small tsunami waves of around three feet in height hit the western coast of Sumatra island, Reuters reported, though Indonesia’s disaster agency said it was still assessing whether there were any deaths or damage.

    'Remain alert'
    Indonesia's Geophysics Agency also said it had detected a rise in sea level of up to 2 feet 7 inches, according to Reuters.Tsunami waves are relatively small in the open ocean, but can quickly build up as they near shore or are channeled into inlets.

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