Malaysia Flight MH370 has been missing since March 8, and now, after exhaustive searches of thousands of square miles in the Gulf and Thailand and Indian Ocean by multiple nations, an alert has been issued to officials in Indonesia – wreckage may simply start washing up along the coast of the Southeast Asian country.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which has been spearheading the search for the missing Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers, has alerted authorities in Indonesia about potential debris washing up on the archipelago’s hundreds of southern and eastern coastlines. This according to UK’s The Independent, which on Oct. 23 wrote that ATSB officials “are still receiving regular reports from members of the public in Australia about potential wreckage, seven and a half months after the Boeing 777 went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.”
The ATSB said they continue to “carefully review” each claim coming out of Australia, but that the best chance of finading debris at this point may be in Indonesia. “The ATSB reviews all of this correspondence carefully, but drift modelling undertaken by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has suggested that if there were any floating debris, it is far more likely to have travelled west, away from the coastline of Australia,” said a statement from the safety bureau.
After a four-month hiatus while the Indian Ocean seafloor was being mapped, ships once again returned to begin a year-long search in what the ATSB calls the “Seventh Arc” in their search maps – a 23,000 square mile area of converging latitude and longitude lines where investigators say Flight 370 would have exhausted its fuel. Mapping was deemed necessary to ensure that the multi-million dollar, submersible sonar equipment wouldn’t be rammed into underwater mountains rising from the ocean’s floor.
“We’re cautiously optimistic; cautious because of all the technical and other challenges we’ve got, but optimistic because we’re confident in the analysis,” said chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Martin Dolan. “But it’s just a very big area that we’re looking at.”
Malaysia’s defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein visited one of the vessels taking part in the search – the GO Phoenix – a tug and supply vessel operating under a Marshall Islands flag – and expressed confidence this week that the missing aircraft will be found. “We must continue to hope, for sometimes hope is all we have,” Hussein said. “If we are looking in the right place, I am 99.9 per cent optimistic we will find it.”
That’s a big if. “We will one day get to the bottom of this tragedy,” the defense minister added. To date, despite dozens of claims that MH370’s debris field or black boxes were located, not a single piece of wreckage has been produced. According to NBC News, “the Discovery, a ship provided by Dutch contractor Fugro, is expected to to arrive in the area Wednesday where it will join the search.”