New hope for clues to MH370's fate

22:15, Mar 29 2014
Inside the search for MH370
Loadmasters Sergeant Adam Roberts (L) and Flight Sergeant John Mancey launching a water-activated buoy from the Hercules C-130J.
Inside the search for MH370
Loadmasters Sergeant Adam Roberts (L) and Flight Sergeant John Mancey launching a water-activated buoy from the Hercules C-130J.
Inside the search for MH370
Loadmasters Sergeant Adam Roberts (L) and Flight Sergeant John Mancey launching a water-activated buoy from the Hercules C-130J.
Perth
The crew of one of two Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft used in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 walk away from their plane in Perth.

Aircraft scoured 252,000 square kilometres on Saturday for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 - almost the entire search zone - but the hunt was unsuccessful. 

It comes as former Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston is expected to be appointed to help coordinate the international search effort.

While numerous objects were sighted by surveillance planes and some recovered by vessels on the scene, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) reported that none of the closely scrutinised debris were from the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft. 

Upset ralative
A family member of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cries on a bus before heading to the protest outside the Malaysian embassy, outside Lido Hotel in Beijing.
Protest outside Malaysian embassy
Family members of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 shout slogans during a protest near the Malaysian embassy in Beijing.
Upset ralative
Families and supporters take to the streets of the Chinese capital.
Malaysian embassy protest
A family member of a passenger from Malaysia Airlines MH370 shouts slogans during a protest in front of the Malaysian embassy in Beijing.
Malaysia Airlines sign
One of many banners posted in a waiting area at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

A flotilla of ships searched for more objects identified by military aircraft as possible wreckage of MH370 as an ever-expanding multinational effort to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet stepped up a gear.

Late on Saturday, a Chinese surveillance plane reported it found three more objects - white, red and orange - in the new search waters, Chinese state media reported.

As new aircraft, ships and a team of navy divers prepared to join the search, the head of New Zealand's Defence Force, Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short, said the debris first sighted by its P3 Orion aircraft on Friday was between half a metre and one metre in size.

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MH370 announcement
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 cries after watching a television broadcast of a news conference, in the Lido hotel in Beijing.
MH370 announcement
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (centre) makes an announcement on the latest development on the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane. "This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."
MH370 announcement
A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 falls down an escalator as he cries after the news that the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean and there were no survivors.
MH370 announcement
Selamat Omar (right), father of flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, sits next to his wife Rosila Abu Samah as he speaks on the phone at the hotel where he and other relatives of passengers are staying.
MH370 announcement
A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries after watching a television broadcast of a news conference where Malaysia's PM announced the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
MH370 announcement
Medical personnel transport a family member who collapsed after hearing all hope was lost of finding survivors of MH370.
MH370 announcement
Family members of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 look out from a room as they cry after watching a television broadcast of a news conference, in the Lido hotel in Beijing.
MH370 announcement
A man cries after hearing the Malaysian prime minister's announcement.
MH370
A family member of a passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is cared for after fainting at the Lido Hotel.
MH370
A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 shouts at journalists after hearing the news that all hope had been lost of finding survivors of MH370.
MH370 reactino
A family member of a passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 leaves on a stretcher after fainting at Lido Hotel.
MH370 announcement
The man is comforted by another grieving family member.

Most of the 11 objects were rectangular in shape, although there was another that was orange and resembled a shipping buoy.

Most were found in a relatively small area and sonar buoys had been dropped by the aircraft to assist ships who would be tasked to identity them.

Two Chinese ships, Haixun 01 and Jinggangshan, and HMAS Success arrived in the search zone, which was shifted 1100 kilometres north-east on Friday after fresh analysis of radar, satellite and MH370's performance capability led Australian authorities to conclude the plane had not flown as far as originally thought.

Kiwis search for MH370
Crew member Garrick Anderson prepares to throw a GPS tracking buoy into the southern Indian Ocean to mark the position of a solid object in the water.
Kiwis search for MH370
Radar specialists are pictured aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean on March 22.
Kiwis search for MH370
Solid matter is pictured floating in the southern Indian Ocean seen from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion.
Kiwis search for MH370
Pilot Dave Smith looks out onto the southern Indian Ocean.
Kiwis search for MH370
Squadron leader Brett McKenzie takes notes of other search aircraft on the windshield of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Kiwis search for MH370
A flight engineer aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft starts the engines before taking off to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean, at RAAF base Pearce near Perth.
Kiwis search for MH370
A pod of dolphins is seen from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion.
Kiwis search for MH370
Squadron leader Brett McKenzie takes notes of other search aircraft.
Kiwis search fro MH370
A crew member keeps a look out for any evidence of the missing plane.
Kiwis search fro MH370
Crew member Sunil Unka looks out his window for any evidence of the missing plane.
Kiwis search fro MH370
Pilot Dave Smith looks out onto the southern Indian Ocean.
Kiwis search fro MH370
Pilots Brett McKenzie (left) and Dave Smith look out onto the southern Indian Ocean aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Kiwis search fro MH370
The sprawling search area.
Kiwis search fro MH370
Pilot Dave Smith (right) gives a pre-flight briefing before taking off to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at the RAAF base Pearce near Perth.
Kiwis search fro MH370
Flight engineer Justin Pike (left) and Squadron Leader Brett McKenzie are pictured in the cockpit.
Kiwis search fro MH370
The southern Indian Ocean is pictured at 500 feet above sea level.
Kiwis search fro MH370
Stars are seen in the sky above the southern Indian Ocean as a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft returns to Perth from its 11-hour long flight searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Kiwis search for MH370
Flight engineers confer.
Kiwis search for MH370
A crewman aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searches for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean.
Kiwis search for MH370
Squadron leader Brett McKenzie marks the name of another search aircraft on the windshield.
Kiwis search for MH370
Pilots and engineers sit in the dark cockpit of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft as they return at night from the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean on March 22.
Kiwis search for MH370
A kiwi is pictured on the vest of a crew member aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft upon its return to RAAF base Pearce.
Kiwis search for MH370
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion aircraft prepares to take-off from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pearce Base to join the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Perth.

Four more ships were due to arrive late on Saturday in a search area 1800km west of Perth and 319,000 square kilometres in size, almost 50 per cent bigger than Victoria and four times larger than the previous search zone.

While the weather was clear on Saturday morning, it deteriorated in the afternoon.

''We should not underestimate the difficulty of this work,'' Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Saturday. ''It is an extraordinarily remote location. These are inhospitable seas. It's an inaccessible place. We are trying to find small bits of wreckage in a vast ocean and while we are throwing everything we have at it, the task goes on.''

Simon Martelli
JOINING THE HUNT: Air Warfare Specialist Flight Sergeant Simon Martelli is one of the dedicated crew onboard the Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion scouring for signs of the missing flight MH370.

Air Vice-Marshal Short said parts of the aircraft would be floating in the sea, such as fuel tanks from wings, composite materials and plastics.

"The only way to really identify them is to get them on board the ship," he told Bloomberg.

Even then, it could be necessary to get the objects back to Perth for analysis "unless there is something very obvious in what they pick up".

As it entered its fourth week, the search effort was augmented by the arrival of two Malaysia C-130 transport planes, which landed at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth on Saturday.

The frigate HMAS Toowoomba has been diverted from its task of scouring Australia's northern reaches for asylum seeker boats and will join soon. It arrived at Garden Island naval base near Perth on Saturday and will take on a new crew that will include a contingent of navy divers who will be required to secure any found items.

HMAS Toowoomba will also carry a Seahawk helicopter.

On Sunday, the Australian navy vessel Ocean Shield is also expected to arrive near Perth and will take on board a towed pinger locator and a team of US military personnel who will operate the machine. It is designed to pick up any signal from the beacon of MH370's flight recorder, known as the black box.

Its beacon is expected to run out of batteries in about nine days. This adds urgency to the search as the black box, which records cockpit conversations and flight data, is the key to learning what happened to the missing aircraft, which had 239 passengers and crew.

ADV Ocean Shield will also carry a Bluefin-21 unmanned submersible drone equipped with sensors and cameras. This can search the ocean floor for the black box even after its beacon has shut down.

While the new search area is remote and enormous, it presents two advantages over those further south. The ocean, at between 2000 and 4000 metres, is shallower. Also, the weather is generally calmer than the ''roaring forties'' between Australia and Antarctica.

Commodore Peter Leavy, the overall military commander of the search effort, said: ''This is a very, very big operation ... Normally a military exercise involving different nations is the result of a lot of planning. Something like this ... we had to come together very quickly and just get on with the job.''

AP