MH370 ‘mostly likely’ lies north of search zone: Experts

A modified genuine Boeing 777 flaperon tested in waters near Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, to help determine where the final resting place of missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 might be. (AFP PHOTO/ COMMONWEALTH SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH ORGANIZATION)
Updated 21 April 2017
0

MH370 ‘mostly likely’ lies north of search zone: Experts

SYDNEY: Missing flight MH370 “most likely” lies north of a former search zone in the remote Indian Ocean, Australian authorities said Friday, in a new report that offers hope the plane may one day be found.
A vast underwater hunt for the Malaysia Airlines jet off Australia’s west coast was halted in January when no trace was found of the plane, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing three years ago carrying 239 people.
The Australian-led undersea search — the most expensive ever of its kind — operated on the assumption that MH370 went down somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean, based on satellite data.
But relatives pleaded for the search to be extended following analysis by Australian and international experts released in December that concluded the aircraft was not in the search zone but may be further north.
Three fragments were also recovered from the plane outside the official search zone on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-meter wing part known as a flaperon found on La Reunion island.
The new report by Australia’s national science body CSIRO supported the northern theory using data and analysis from ocean testing of an actual Boeing 777 flaperon.
As part of the test, the wing part was cut down to match photographs of MH370’s flaperon and then placed in waters near Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, an island state south of Australia’s mainland.
“The arrival of MH370’s flaperon at La Reunion in July 2015 now makes perfect sense,” said CSIRO scientist David Griffin, adding that how the flaperon responded to wind, waves and ocean currents was crucial.
He said testing with an actual flaperon “added an extra level of assurance” to the findings from earlier drift modelling work.
“We add both (wind and waves) together in our model to simulate the drift across the ocean, then compare the results with observations of where debris was and wasn’t found, in order to deduce the location of the aircraft.
“We cannot be absolutely certain, but that is where all the evidence we have points us, and this new work leaves us more confident in our findings.”
The report was welcomed by Transport Minister Darren Chester who said it was provided to Malaysia.
“The CSIRO report has been provided to Malaysia for consideration in its ongoing investigation into the disappearance of MH370,” he said in a statement.
“Malaysia is the lead investigator and any future requests in relation to searching for MH370 would be considered by Australia, at that time.”
But he added it was “important to note that it does not provide new evidence leading to a specific location of MH370.”
Australia said in January when the full area was scoured that the hunt would not be restarted without “credible new evidence.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which led the original search mission, said the report “further confirms the most likely location of MH370 is in the new search area.”
The old search zone — a 120,000 square kilometer area off western Australia — was largely defined from scant clues available from satellite “pings” and calculations of how much fuel was on board MH370.


Half of Aquarius migrants ‘seek asylum in France’: Spanish govt

Updated 33 min 6 sec ago
0

Half of Aquarius migrants ‘seek asylum in France’: Spanish govt

MADRID: Almost half of the 630 migrants that were rescued from the Mediterranean and arrived in Spain’s port of Valencia at the weekend want to seek asylum in France, the Spanish government said Monday.
The migrants arrived in Spain on Sunday in three vessels, including the rescue ship Aquarius, after being turned away by Italy and Malta last week.
“Almost half the migrants have shown their willingness to seek asylum in France, which offered to welcome some of the people traveling on the ship,” Spain’s new socialist government said in a statement.
The majority of the 630 migrants are from Africa, including 450 men and 80 women, of which at least seven are pregnant, as well as 89 adolescents and 11 children under the age of 13, according to the Valencia authorities.
The Aquarius, run by French charity SOS Mediterranee, rescued them off Libya’s coast on June 9 and Italy and Malta’s refusal to let the ship dock led to an international outcry before Spain stepped in to help.
Madrid on Saturday said it had accepted an offer from France — who had angered Rome by branding it irresponsible — to welcome Aquarius migrants who “meet the criteria for asylum.”
France will examine asylum requests from Aquarius migrants who want to come over from Spain on a “case-by-case basis,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday, adding it was “impossible” to know how many will arrive.


Pascal Brice, director-general of France’s refugee protection office Ofpra, told AFP that one of his teams would travel to Valencia soon.
“As soon as the Spanish authorities have informed us of the number of people concerned, a team from Ofpra will go on site to conduct the interviews and ensure that people are covered by the right to asylum,” he said, adding that the process should take place this week.
Local leaders on the French island of Corsica had offered to welcome the Aquarius, but the move was slapped down by the central government, which argued that under international law the ship had to dock at the closest port.
A majority of the French public, 56 percent, back the government’s decision, an opinion poll released Monday showed.
In Spain the migrants were granted authorization to remain in the country for 45 days while each individual’s legal case is studied.
Those who file a demand for asylum will be able to stay in the country while immigration services consider their request, a process that takes up to six months, said Paloma Favieres of the Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR).