Australia announced on Wednesday that 12 objects that floated three years ago near the suspected crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were likely “man-made,” according to a new analysis of photos taken via satellite.
An underwater search of the missing plane, which had 239 people on board and disappeared in March 2014, spanned about three years but failed to find any signs of the aircraft.
The images taken two weeks after MH370 disappeared were analyzed by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which used drift modeling of the debris to suggest a new potential location of the plane’s crash site, the Guardian reported. Two agencies, Geoscience Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), analyzed the photos.
They suggested a new crash site, located north of the original search zone at 35.6°S, 92.8°E — in the Indian Ocean.
Australia, Malaysia and China called off a A$200 million ($160 million), two-year search for the plane in January after finding nothing, despite the protests of families of those onboard.
The CSIRO has previously raised doubts about the main 120,000-sq-km underwater search zone, saying it believed the plane went down to the north of it.
Its latest assertion was its most insistent yet and was based on a review of satellite images provided by the French military intelligence service and France’s national space agency, CNES, which showed 70 pieces of debris with a dozen of those “probably” man-made.
“We think it is possible to identify a most-likely location of the aircraft, with unprecedented precision and certainty,” the CSIRO said.
Byron Bailey, a former senior captain with Emirates who now flies private jets, told the Australian that the government and the ATBS should be “ashamed of themselves.”
“What I can’t understand is why it has taken 3½ years before a French satellite’s images prompted action by the ATSB,” he said.
Jennifer Chong, whose husband Chong Ling Tan was on MH370, said the Malaysian and Australian government should re-initiate a search.
“This certainly warrants a new search,” Chong said. “I think it is really interesting that they’ve only discovered this now, three years after, even though the images were taken shortly after the incident. My first response is anger because they’ve had these images for such a long time.”
Reuters contributed to this report.