As it happened: Debris spotted in airliner search

Key Points

  • The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) says its search operation has ended for the day and will continue on Friday morning
  • Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says two objects have been spotted by satellite that may have come from the missing Malaysian airliner
  • Four search planes were sent to look for the debris in the South Indian Ocean. A Norwegian ship has reached the area
  • The Malaysian transport minister describes the possible sighting as a “credible lead”, but says the authorities are treating it with caution
  • Teams from 26 countries are now trying to locate flight MH370, which went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board
  • UK satellite firm Inmarsat says there were very strong indications 10 days ago the plane was not in the initial search area (All times GMT)

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    Welcome to our live page on developments in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says two objects that could be debris from the jet have been seen off Western Australia.


    Mr Abbott told parliament in Canberra that a search aircraft had been diverted to try to locate the objects in the southern Indian Ocean.


    In his statement, Mr Abbott said: "I would like to inform the House that new and credible information has come to light in relation to the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search. Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified."

    Tony Abbott

    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the task of locating the objects would be "extremely difficult", and cautioned: "It may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370."


    To recap, the search for the plane is focused on two giant arcs of territory. Australia has been heading the search along a southern arc stretching from the Indonesian coast to the west of Australia.


    Reuters reports that Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has told reporters: "I can confirm we have a new lead."


    Analysts have previously speculated that the southern maritime corridor is the most likely location for the missing aircraft, pointing out the unlikelihood of it passing undetected over nearly a dozen countries.


    More now on that statement from Malaysia Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. He said: "At 10:00 this morning, Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Razak received a call from Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia, informing him that two possible objects related to the search for MH370 had been identified in the southern Indian Ocean. The Australian High Commissioner has also briefed me on the situation."


    John Young, a spokesman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), tells a press conference that the objects were located in the southern Indian Ocean about 2,500km (1,550 miles) south-west of Perth on Australia's west coast.


    Asked about the size of the objects, Mr Young said one piece was approximately 24m (78ft).


    Mr Young: "The objects are relatively indistinct. Those who are expert say they are credible sightings."


    Mr Young: "Weather conditions are moderate but poor visibility has been reported, which will hamper air and satellite efforts."


    Mr Young added: "What we're looking for is confirmation that it does belong to the aircraft or does not." When asked whether specific items such as plane windows were visible he replied: "The imagery is not that precise."

    Families of missing in Beijing

    As the latest developments unfold, the families of those missing continue to endure an agonising wait for news. Here relatives prepare for a news briefing at a hotel in Beijing.

    ABC Foreign Editor Jon Williams

    tweets: Crew on @USNavy P-8 spotter tell (ABC correspondent on board P-8) @WrightUps: "significant radar returns" coming from site where possible #MH370 objects spotted.


    John Young of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) couldn't give much detail but said the objects were "of a reasonable size and probably awash with water and bobbing up and down over the surface".

    Philip Wen, China correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper

    tweets: Big flurry of activity on the WeChat group Chinese #MH370 passenger families have set up. Telling each other to keep calm.


    AMSA's John Young also sounded a note of caution saying: "We have been in this business of doing search and rescue and using sat (satellite) images before and they do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good."

    Debbie Gardner from Perth

    emails: I have just been looking at the dimensions of the plane. The wing span of the aircraft measures 60.9m so approx 30m each wing. The dimensions from the inside of each engine is 11m including fuselage, 5.5m each way. That gives us an approximation of 24m from wing tip to engine. Only hypothetical but interesting.

    AP-3C Orion aircraft over southern Indian Ocean

    Australia says an AP-3C Orion aircraft is already at the area in the southern Indian Ocean where the objects were located. More aircraft are on their way.


    The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Kuala Lumpur says the Australian sighting appears to be the most convincing lead yet in the search for the missing jet.


    It is perhaps worth remembering that previous sightings of possible debris have been investigated in the search for the plane but none have proved to be linked. Some 26 nations are now involved in the search.


    Just to get some idea of the scale of the search in the southern Indian Ocean, military planes from Australia, the US and New Zealand have been scouring a region of 305,000 sq km (117,000 square miles).

    Map showing latest Australian search area

    This is the map that John Young of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority used in his press conference. It shows the area where the search is now focused.

    Jack Cooksey from Perth

    emails: Flurry of activity here in Perth with planes and props flying over every minute heading out to sea. Looks like they are running a heavy operation out of Western Australia.


    Just to recap on those search aircraft involved in identifying the objects in the southern Indian Ocean - a Royal Australian Air Force Orion has arrived in the search area and a US Poseidon aircraft is also reported to be on the scene while a New Zealand Orion and a second Australian Orion are due to arrive later.

    06:27: Capt Bimal Sharma from Delhi - a relative of one of the missing passengers

    tells BBC News: I want them to find the plane but until they find something specific I can't believe that it will be found there. Surely the Australian prime minister wouldn't have made this announcement though unless he was sure it was something significant, but then he is relying on satellite images which aren't very clear.

    I believe my sister is still alive, or rather, I can't let myself believe she isn't.

    CCTV News

    tweets: China's FM: Chinese Embassy in Australia will assist in searching the area where debris possibly linked to #MH370 has been identified.

    06:31: Damian Grammaticas China correspondent

    says relatives of the missing Chinese passengers have been told about the possible sightings at a meeting in Beijing. But our correspondent says many are still very sceptical. "It has been so much of a rollercoaster - with so many ups and downs already - they are not going to change their opinions until something concrete is confirmed," he says.

    China Xinhua News

    tweets: China highly concerned about Australia's possible findings related to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: FM spokesman


    ABC News reporter David Wright, who is apparently on board the US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft involved in the search, says the crew have told him the radar indicates "there is something down there". But it is still too early to tell if the radar hits are related to the missing plane, ABC News reports.

    Najib Razak Malaysian prime minister

    tweets: Meeting my Chief of Defence Force. After call from @TonyAbbottMHR, awaiting confirmation from Australia on the objects found. #PrayForMH370


    The Wall Street Journal describes a mood of "sombre disbelief" at the Beijing hotel where relatives of the missing Chinese passengers have gathered. "I don't believe anything they say," Wen Wancheng, whose son was on the flight, told the newspaper. "I just don't believe this news."


    Chinese relatives of passengers from the missing flight react as they wait for news at a hotel in Beijing. It's now 13 days since the plane disappeared.

    Chinese relatives of passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 react as they wait for news at the Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing on 20 March 2014

    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) has just released satellite images that show the objects they are investigating.

    First satellite image of possible debris
    Second satellite image of possible plane debris

    The dimensions of the Boeing 777-200ER are listed on Boeing's website here. It says the plane has a wing span of 60.9m (199ft 11in), an overall length of 63.7m (209ft 1in) and a tail height of 18.5m (60ft 9in).


    Here is another map released by Amsa showing the search area teams are focusing on.

    Amsa map showing search area for missing flight MH370
    07:36: Celia Hatton BBC News, Beijing

    tweets: Scores of police and at least 5 ambulances just arrived at hotel where #MH370 families waiting

    Image by Celia Hatton of ambulances outside Beijing hotel where missing passengers' families are

    Two thirds of the 239 people on board the missing plane were from China. The country's state media says officials there are watching developments closely. The Chinese foreign ministry has ordered the embassy and consulates in Australia to keep in close touch with the Australian authorities and assist in the search and rescue mission, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

    Celia Hatton BBC News, Beijing

    tweets: One father waiting at the hotel told the BBC he wants to believe his son is still alive, refuses to accept possibility #MH370 crashed

    ABC News

    tweets: UPDATE: US 7th Fleet spokesperson: Radar hits seen by US P-8 not believed linked to objects identified by Australians - @LMartinezABC


    Australian authorities said one of the objects spotted was about 24m (79ft) in size but deep under water. Here are satellite images of that object released by the The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa).

    Amsa satellite image
    Amsa satellite image

    Australian Air Commodore John McGarry said it would take time to analyse the satellite images of the debris. "The task of analysing imagery is quite difficult, it requires drawing down frames and going through frame by frame," AP news agency quoted him as saying.

    CCTV News

    tweets: #US P-8 has arrived in Indian Ocean area; US 7th Fleet spokesperson confirms they have located the debris identified by #Australia. #MH370


    AFP news agency has made a graphic putting the objects spotted in the context of the search area and the last communications with flight MH370. You can see the image here.

    Nine News Brisbane

    tweets: One plane searching for missing @MAS flight #MH370 is due back at the #RAAF base Pearce outside #Perth shortly #9NewsAt6


    Air Vice Marshal Kevin Short, who's in charge of New Zealand's role in the search efforts, has told the BBC how the air search will be carried out. "The aircraft themselves have been tasked to do a radar and visual search. They will be flying at about 1,000ft (300m) above sea level... Whatever imagery is actually taken will be sent back to the rescue coordination centre for analysis."

    CCTV News

    tweets: The pilot on US P-8: Radar hits seen not believed to be linked to objects identified by Australia.#Update #MH370


    ABC News reporter David Wright, who is on board the US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft, said the search plane would take about three hours to reach the site of the objects spotted and would then have three hours to scour the area closer to the water before heading back. "The plane has some of the highest tech gear available - some of it classified. If anybody is likely to find something down there this plane has the opportunity to do so," he told the US broadcaster.


    The BBC has been speaking to some of the relatives of the missing Chinese passengers in Beijing. Zhang Xinyu, whose 67-year-old mother was on the plane, said: "I've heard about the new findings by the Australians in the south Indian Ocean. If it is anything, it would be a bad news for us all. We all wish that the plane had been hijacked and is being hidden somewhere. If the Australian findings really turned out to be remains of the plane, that would mean there's no hope left for us."


    Family members are also waiting for news at a hotel in Putrajaya, south of Kuala Lumpur. Thirty-eight of the missing passengers come from Malaysia.

    A family member sits in the dining area awaiting news about missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at the Everly hotel in Putrajaya on 20 March 2014
    09:09: Jonah Fisher BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

    says the US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft is currently flying over the area where the objects were spotted. It is scanning both the surface of the water and underneath. Our correspondent says officials are expecting this search plane to give the first indication of whether the debris could be linked to the missing plane.

    09:24: Jim Reed, BBC Newsnight

    tweets: #mh370 press conference about to start in Kuala Lumpur. By now should have had first reports from US P-8 plane in area identified by Aussies.


    ABC News reporter David Wright is travelling on board a US P-8 Poseidon aircraft on its way to reach floating debris. You can watch the video here.


    Bimal Sharma, a merchant navy captain whose sister Chandrika is on the missing Malaysia airliner MH370, spoke to BBC 5 live earlier about his "hope" and "despair" as the search continues for the plane. You can listen to the interview here.


    Australian aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas tells BBC World News: "This is about the most challenging location you could possibly pick... The seas out there can get to 30m (98ft) in height and the sea floor is about 10,000ft (3,000m) down. This is about as tough as it gets."


    Malaysian officials are speaking at a news conference.


    Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein tells the news conference four aircraft have been re-orientated to the search area.


    Hishammuddin Hussein says: "Every effort is being made to locate objects seen in the satellite images." He says it must be stressed these these images - while "credible" - may not be linked to to the missing plane.


    The Malaysian transport minister says the UK is sending a ship to help with the search in the southern air corridor.


    "For the families around the world, the one piece of information they want most - we want most - is the information we just don't have: the location of the aircraft," says Hishammuddin Hussein. He says search efforts will continue overnight.

    The Straits Times

    tweets: There are 18 ships, 29 aircraft deployed for search: #Malaysia Acting Transport Minister #MH370


    The search will continue in both the northern and southern air corridors until a sighting is confirmed, the minister says.


    Malaysia's civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman says the news of the debris was received earlier on Thursday. However, it is unclear when the satellite images were taken.


    The transport minister says a "high-level" team is leaving for Beijing later.


    To recap: Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March when it lost contact with air traffic controllers. A total of 239 people were on board.


    Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya says: "If it is confirmed that the aircraft is located close to Australia we will make arrangements to fly the next of kin there."


    The transport minister says the Malaysian authorities have encountered no reluctance from any of the countries involved in the search operation to share satellite information.

    AMSA News

    tweets: RAAF P3 crew unable to locate debris. Cloud & rain limited visbility. Further aircraft to continue search for #MH370

    Jim Reed BBC Newsnight reporter

    tweets: Aussies dropping data buoys in sea near suspected #mh370 pieces to track drift and mark area.


    The press conference has now ended. The Malaysian transport minister described Australia's possible sighting of debris as a "credible lead", but said it was not clear whether the objects seen were linked to the missing plane. He said the search in both the southern and northern corridors would continue.


    Malaysia says that China is using 21 satellites in the search for the missing plane. Neighbouring countries like Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are also helping in the search.


    There were 14 different nationalities represented in the 227 passengers and 12 crew travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. You can read some of the passengers' stories here.


    The Malaysian prime minister's special envoy to China and China's ambassador to Malaysia will lead a briefing later on Thursday for Chinese families in Kuala Lumpur, officials say.

    CCTV News

    tweets: Malaysian Authorities: High-level team is leaving for Beijing today; gov't officials have spoken to relatives of passengers onboard. #MH370


    People in Malaysia have been expressing support for the missing passengers and their relatives, as well as the crews involved in the huge search operation. This woman is adding her message to a specially-dedicated glass panel in a shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur.

    A woman writes a message for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, on a glass at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 20 March 2014
    Jim Roberts, Greenwich, London

    emails: This is only an observation but, today's mass search following the released satellite pictures is four days after the sighting as the pictures have a date stamp of 16th of March and surely the debris could have drifted hundreds of miles in four days!!


    The UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the UK is sending HMS Echo - a coastal survey ship - to the southern search corridor.


    According to the Royal Navy website HMS Echo is mid-way through an 18-month deployment to improve charts used by seafarers across the world. The British ship has been in the Gulf conducting hydrographic surveying - but will now join the search for flight MH370.


    Reuters news agency is reporting that a Norwegian ship has reached an area in the Indian Ocean where possible debris may have been spotted.

    C. Bingham, England

    emails: Prior to my retirement I spent 25 years commanding commercial ships and was involved in several search and rescue operations at sea. During all that time I never, ever, witnessed the breathtaking incompetence, misinterpretation of data, and misuse of expensive resources as those which have plagued the search for the missing airliner, and indeed the whole ongoing MH370 fiasco. Equally as worrying have been some of the, frankly half-baked and hopelessly ill-informed, opinions of many of the "experts" who I've seen interviewed in this connection on television.


    The Norwegian ship was sailing from Madagascar to Melbourne when it received a request from Australia to assist in investigating the possible debris, Reuters news agency says.


    Daniel Sutton, a journalist covering the story for Network 10 in Australia, tells BBC Outside Source darkness is closing in on the search area. He says an Australian and US plane are in the area as is a merchant ship. You can listen to the programme here.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein (centre), headed the news conference on the missing plane in Kuala Lumpur earlier. He has become a familiar face in worldwide media coverage over the past week and a half.

    Malaysia's Minister of Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (2R) listens to questions from the floor during a press conference on 20 March 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Australia's AP-3C Orion aircraft has landed in Perth after its crew were unable to find the debris.

    Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) crew members from of an AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft walk down a ladder after they arrived in Perth on 20 March 2014 after searching an area in the southern Indian Ocean for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

    Here is the Norwegian car carrier, the St Petersburg, which has joined the search and earlier reached the area where debris was spotted about 2,500km (1,550 miles) from Perth.

    Norwegian car carrier Hoegh St Petersburg at sea
    Jon Williams Foreign editor, ABC News

    tweets: Only things seen by US P-8 spotter searching for debris from #MH370, a freighter in remote area and two pods of dolphins says @WrightUps


    Selamat Omar, father of one of the passengers on the missing plane, spoke to reporters in Malaysia. He said: "All the information we're getting is fine, but now what we really need is proof whether it is the plane or not... We need confirmation from the Australian government." Watch his interview here.

    David Learmount Operations and Safety Editor at Flightglobal

    tweets: Maybe days before sighted flotsam can be identified. Night falling, "Roaring Forties" latitude, swell high, viz bad, winter coming. #MH370

    Bernama Radio24 in Kuala Lumpar

    tweets: Indonesia confirms that its seven nationals who were on board #MH370, are not linked to terrorism


    Here is the British coastal survey ship HMS Echo, which will be joining the southern part of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane

    File photo: Undated Royal Navy handout photo of HMS Echo
    David Wright ABC News reporter

    tweets: Alas our 9 hour trip aboard the P8 - including 3 hours of intensive searching did NOT turn up any evidence of debris...

    David Wright ABC News reporter

    tweets: Nada today - except for a freighter and 2 pods of dolphins. They'll be back out tomorrow - eager to provide answers to those families #MH370

    12:42: Phil Mercer BBC News, Perth

    says: Far out to sea, thick cloud and rain have hampered attempts to find the debris that could be part of the missing aircraft. It's almost two weeks since the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared, prompting a massive international search across parts of Asia and the Indian Ocean.


    ABC News reporter David Wright, who has been on board a US P-8 Poseidon aircraft, told the BBC's Newshour programme that as soon as the search plane reached the required location - closer to Antarctica than Australia - it became clear that the debris was not to be seen. "It was hopes raised, unfortunately," he said.


    Australian Defence Minister David Johnston is quoted as saying something definite should be known about the possible discovery of debris within "two or three days".


    The Wall Street Journal has published claims that four days went by before officials acted on satellite data showing the plane flew six hours past the point it dropped out of contact with air traffic control. The newspaper said this delay slowed efforts to expand the search area by thousands of miles.

    Breaking News

    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) says search operations have ended for the day and will continue on Friday morning. You can see the full statement here.

    AFP 20 March

    Relatives of those on board the flight have attended a briefing in Cyberjaya near Kuala Lumpur. They face an anxious wait for news.


    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is co-ordinating the latest phase of the search, is keeping the world abreast of developments on its Facebook and Twitter pages.


    The four aircraft involved in Thursday's search have covered a total area of 23,000 sq km, Amsa says. The search operation will continue on Friday.


    The owners of the Norwegian car carrier ship, the St Petersburg, have just held a press conference. They say that the ship will continue to travel "back and forth" along the search area until instructed otherwise by Australian authorities. The crew of the ship have been on deck searching for debris using binoculars.

    14:02: Leisha Chi BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

    tweets: Journo pack waiting for #MH370 families.

    BBC 20 March

    She is in the Cyberjaya resort near the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, where families are waiting to hear news from Malaysian officials.


    More from that news conference by the owners of the Norwegian car carrier, the St Petersburg. They say that the search has been called off for now but will resume at daybreak on Friday. The ship had been in the area for 16 hours, with the all-Filipino, 19-strong crew searching the surrounding ocean from the deck, the owners said.

    14:18: Robert Hollis, Ulsan, South Korea

    emails: I have worked as a marine engineer surveyor for all of my working life. For a number of years all ships have been required to carry a device called called an emergency position indicating radio beacon which, if it sinks in an accident, automatically floats free and immediately sends out radio signals which can be picked up by satellites. As I understand it, planes carry their black boxes, but when they crash into the sea they take them to the bottom with them. I cannot understand why planes do not carry a similar device.

    AP 20 March

    People have been leaving messages of hope on a wall in a shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    14:58: Breaking News

    British satellite company Inmarsat tells the BBC there were very strong indications 10 days ago that the plane would be found either in the southern part of the Indian Ocean or in Central Asia, and not in the South China Sea or the Malacca Straits where Malaysian authorities continued to search.


    Inmarsat says it learned on 11 March that the plane had continued to fly for seven hours or more and that it was very unlikely to be in the area where the Malaysian authorities were searching. Inmarsat has made the information public because of concerns over the way the search operation has been handled.


    The information Inmarsat has revealed to the BBC about the data it gave to the Malaysia authorities matches a report in the Wall Street Journal published earlier on Thursday. Inmarsat claims the Malaysian authorities continued to search in waters close to the plane's point of departure despite receiving satellite data suggesting that the plane continued to fly for several hours after losing contact with air traffic control.


    Based on information released by British satellite company Inmarsat, Malaysian authorities waited at least three days before publicly acknowledging data that suggested the plane had continued flying for several hours after it lost contact with the ground. Correspondents say the revelations are likely to increase the pressure on Malaysian authorities, who have been accused by the relatives of those on board of withholding information from them.

    Peter Evans, Staffordshire

    emails: In response to Robert Hollis, the latest generation of airliners do indeed carry such a tracking device. The latest Boeing 787 Dreamliner carries an emergency locator transmitter in its fuselage roof, designed to break free in the event of the aircraft ditching in the sea. It is my understanding that older Boeing 777 aircraft do not carry this device.

    Fariz Low, Kuala Lumpur

    tweets: Tomorrow will be the 14th day #MH370 went missing. Also, 2 weeks of me being part of the Emergency Ops Center team. I. Need. Sleep. Now.


    What will it mean if those pieces of debris are from the missing plane? Robert Goyer, editor-in-chief of Flying magazine, examines what that would tell us about flight MH370 in a piece for CNN here..


    The Sydney Morning Herald says the images of debris released by Australian officials earlier on Thursday came from a US satellite.


    A message for passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is seen on a big screen in Kuala Lumpur.

    A message for passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is seen on big screen in Kuala Lumpur on 20 March 2014
    16:04: Van Gurley Retired US Navy captain

    tells the BBC that it is important investigators do not to rule out anything out when searching for the plane. "That is the technique that led us to be able to help the French find Air France 447. It was the accumulation of lots of small bits of evidence that were carefully collected and put together in a mathematically rigorous fashion," he says.

    16:08: Leisha Chi, BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

    tweets: No #MH370 family members who attended a closed door briefing with government in Cyberjaya came to speak to press and exited through back passages.


    India's defence ministry says it is sending two aircraft to join the international search. Delhi earlier said it had put its search operation on hold as it awaited further instructions from Malaysia.

    Jon Ostrower

    Aerospace & Boeing beat reporter for The Wall Street Journal tweets: Very rare for an aviation investigation of any kind to take less than a year. Even comparatively minor ones can stretch 18 months. #MH370


    We've made a useful visual guide to the countries, equipment and locations involved in the massive search for the missing airliner. The total area being searched is 2.97m square miles (7.68m sq km) - about 1.5% of the Earth's surface area.

    Ros Atkins BBC News

    tweets: Got a question about the current search for #MH370 off Australian coast? Tweet me, aviation expert Andrew Charlton will answer on @BBCOS TV


    tweets: The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight #MH370 shows how air-traffic communications need to be updated


    Special prayer services have been held in Malaysia and other countries for the passengers and crew of the missing flight MH370. Here, people pray in a Sikh temple in Kuala Lumpur.

    People pray in Kuala Lumpur
    17:35: Rebecca Morelle BBC News Science Reporter

    has written a guide to the complex and difficult salvage operation that could await if search teams confirm that the debris seen on satellite images is from flight MH370.


    The girlfriend of Philip Wood, an American passenger on the flight, has told ABC News of her pain at not knowing his fate. "Ambiguity is a painful thing to go through. At least if you can start a grieving cycle, that cycle may last a very long time but at least you can begin it" Sara Bacj said.

    Shahrukh Khan, in India,

    tweets: Heartbreaking: "if the worst happened then I will have no meaning in my life. This is my only son" Dad of missing #MH370 passenger tells.

    Phil Mercer BBC News, Sydney

    has been speaking to experts in Australia. He says: "Academics say the relatively large size of the unidentified objects spotted by satellite - about 24m in length - suggests that if the fragments are part of the missing jet, the aircraft was largely intact when it hit the water. Oceanographers here in Western Australia believe that if the debris is from the Malaysia airlines flight it probably crashed about 300 to 400 kilometres to the west due to prevailing currents."


    Many family members are still clinging on to any hope that their loved ones may be still alive.

    A relative of one of the passengers on board the missing plane reacts in Beijing, China
    Toba, in Nigeria,

    emails: I think they should not focus on ocean alone, they should increase their search on air and on land because the plane could have been hijacked.

    BBC Transport Correspondent, Richard Westcott,

    tweets: I am told sea containers are normally 12m, so half the size of this debris


    #MH370 now trending on Twitter in the UK


    How does radar technology work, and could a new kind of radar track planes hundreds of miles away? The BBC's James Morgan has been speaking to experts on tracking.


    The BBC's Richard Westcott looks back at what we know about the missing airliner and what would happen if the debris turned out to be from the plane.

    A family member of one of the missing passengers speaks in Beijing. Photo: 20 March 2014

    Meanwhile, the anxious wait goes on for the families of the missing passengers, some of whom have been speaking to the media in Beijing.


    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) says search operations will continue on Friday with four military aircraft and several merchant ships. The Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Success is also on its way to the area, Amsa said in a press release.


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