News / Asia

    Ancient Shipwrecks Found Underwater, But No Missing MH370 Plane

    Debris from a shipwreck — including an anchor — lays on the Indian Ocean floor, nearly 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) below the surface, off the west coast of Australia. (Photo courtesy of ATSB)
    Debris from a shipwreck — including an anchor — lays on the Indian Ocean floor, nearly 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) below the surface, off the west coast of Australia. (Photo courtesy of ATSB)

    Nearly two years have passed since the disappearance of MH370, the Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

    A U.S. firm, Phoenix International, will rejoin the search next week aboard a Chinese vessel, which will join three Dutch ships in scouring the Indian Ocean. The underwater search will take place in the southern Indian Ocean, off the west coast of Australia.

    Phoenix International's side scan sonar, which can create an image of large areas of the sea floor, will be towed from the Chinese Rescue Ship Dong Hai Jiu 101.

    Experts say the Phoenix Synthetic Aperture Sonar is more accurate than the traditional 75 kHz side sonars that were previously used. According to Phoenix officials, the SAS provides a "higher degree of resolution," especially at the outer ranges of sonar.

    The Phoenix Synthetic Aperture Sonar, or ProSAS-60, provides a "higher degree of resolution," especially at the outer ranges of sonar. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix International Holdings, Inc.)
    The Phoenix Synthetic Aperture Sonar, or ProSAS-60, provides a "higher degree of resolution," especially at the outer ranges of sonar. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix International Holdings, Inc.)

    It also allows 24-hour access to instant data with less need for battery replacement.

    "We fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of this effort, and we look forward to assisting the ATSB [Australian Transport Safety Bureau] in finding MH370 and bringing closure to those impacted by this tragic event," said Mike Kutzleb, President of Phoenix.    

    Phoenix has assisted in the search before; it was first contracted three months after the plane disappeared.

    Unusual discoveries

    MH370 is thought to have gone down in some of the most remote ocean stretches in the world. Numerous underwater searches have failed to locate debris on areas of the ocean floor that are yet unmapped and up to 6,000 meters deep.  

    The area is fraught with unforeseen danger. An Australian search report mentions "underwater mountains, crevasses, ridges and 2,000-meter sheer cliffs."

    A 3-D view of volcano, with an added icon showing the location of the towfish that slammed into it in January 2016 and sank. (Photo courtesy of ATSB)
    A 3-D view of volcano, with an added icon showing the location of the towfish that slammed into it in January 2016 and sank. (Photo courtesy of ATSB)

    Last month, an underwater sonar device, called a towfish, slammed into a 2,200-meter high mud volcano. The cable snapped and the towfish — along with 4,500 meters of cable — plummeted to the ocean floor. Experts say it is possible to recover the equipment at a later date.

    Over the course of the search, two previously unknown shipwrecks have been found.

    A January sonar image shows a shipwreck discovered in December 2015. (Photo courtesy of ATSB)A January sonar image shows a shipwreck discovered in December 2015. (Photo courtesy of ATSB)
    x
    A January sonar image shows a shipwreck discovered in December 2015. (Photo courtesy of ATSB)
    A January sonar image shows a shipwreck discovered in December 2015. (Photo courtesy of ATSB)

    In January 2016, sonar photos revealed a strange object. The Shipwreck Galleries of the Western Australian Museum determined the object was a ship made of steel or iron from the turn of the 19th century.

    Last May, debris was located from the wreck of another ship. The largest object — in the shape of a box — was about six meters.

    Crash's cause, best guess

    Without any substantial debris to study, the Australian Defense Science and Technology Group (DST) says the most likely cause of the plane crash was a right engine flame-out, followed by a left engine flame-out. 

    The analysis took into account the amount of fuel loaded in Kuala Lumpur and the amount used in each engine before the plane's final transmission.

    Flame-outs occur when a jet fuel in a tank is depleted.

    The report continues, "It is estimated that the left engine could have continued to run for up to 15 minutes after the right engine flamed out."

    The only confirmed wreckage of Flight 370 to be recovered was a flaperon that washed up on Reunion Island in July of last year.

    Last month, a large portion of plane wreckage was found off the coast of Thailand, igniting speculation that it could be from MH370. But Malaysian investigators said the debris was not from the same type of Boeing 777 as the mysteriously missing aircraft.

    Completing the search

    The complete search area is 120,000 square kilometers off the west coast of Australia.

    “Recent commitments by the People's Republic of China to provide funding and equipment, coupled with Malaysia's ongoing financial contributions, will ensure the thorough completion of the remaining 45,000 square kilometers of the search area," according to a statement from Australian officials leading the search effort.

    Investigators say they will end all search efforts in June 2016.


    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Kaine Project Optimism in First Joint Campaign Event

    Kaine, a moderate, has potential to attract voters repelled by Donald Trump and those who may have a hard time fully embracing Clinton

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: manoj pillai
    February 07, 2016 11:36 AM
    Perhaps, perhaps.. a detailed examination of the flora, fauna (or microflora) on the retrieved wing part, plus any minerals, etc can throw some light on where the wing came from.. ie which part of the world's oceans...

    by: Max Leyland from: Cooloongup West Australia
    February 06, 2016 1:21 AM
    An oil rig worker saw a fire in the sky 350 Kilometers or Miles North West of Kaulalumper shoud be investigated. MH 370 ?

    by: Joe
    February 05, 2016 3:17 PM
    'Not from the same type of 777'

    Are we to believe then that someone has lost another 777 in the same area but not mentioned it..?

    by: Mel
    February 05, 2016 12:00 PM
    @John,G
    The author does say 120,000 square kilometres, not 120 square kilometres. Maybe you should check and correct your statement.
    In Response

    by: Rich from: Boise, Idaho
    February 05, 2016 2:59 PM
    Note the top line: Last updated on: February 05, 2016 9:57 AM

    John's comment was before then.

    by: John, G from: Perth, Western Australia
    February 05, 2016 1:01 AM
    Please check and correct your facts, the search area is not 120 square kilometres, it is actually vastly much larger.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora