Thai­land spots sus­pected de­bris

Satel­lite im­ages show hun­dreds of ob­jects scat­tered across 200-km area

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­

A Thai satel­lite has de­tected float­ing ob­jects about 2,700 kilo­me­ters from Perth, Aus­tralia, Thai­land’s space agency said on Thurs­day, as a team of Malaysian civil­ian and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials head for Perth to as­sist with the search oper­a­tion.

The Thai­chote, or Thai­land Earth Ob­ser­va­tion Satel­lite, ac­quired the im­agery of ob­jects spread over 450 square km in the In­dian Ocean on Mon­day morn­ing, said a state­ment from the Geo-In­for­mat­ics and Space Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment Agency of the Thai Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy.

The float­ing ob­jects are sus­pected to be re­lated to Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH370, the agency said.

Anond Snid­vongs, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Thai agency, was quoted by the Na­tion news­pa­per as say­ing that about 300 ob­jects mea­sur­ing from 2 to 16 me­ters are scat­tered about 200 km from the in­ter­na­tional search area.

The satel­lite find­ings have been sub­mit­ted to Prime Min­is­ter Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra, Anond said, adding that the satel­lite will col­lect im­ages of these ob­jects a sec­ond time that will then be for­warded to For­eign Min­is­ter Su­rapong To­hvichakchaikul.

The Thai­chote is a re­mote sens­ing satel­lite used for nat­u­ral re­sources ob­ser­va­tion.

Anond said the ob­jects were about 200 km from the area where a French satel­lite spotted 122 ob­jects on Sun­day. It re­mains un­cer­tain whether the ob­jects could be de­bris from flight MH370, which dis­ap­peared on March 8 with 239 people on board.

Also on Thurs­day, the Ja­panese govern­ment said a Ja­panese satel­lite spotted ob­jects sus­pected of be­ing de­bris from MH370, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

The Malaysian Min­istry of Trans­port said in a state­ment late on Thurs­day that the na­tion is en­gaged in send­ing to Perth a team whose mem­bers are drawn from the Depart­ment of Civil Avi­a­tion, Malaysia Air­lines, the Malaysian navy and air force.

This team will work with Aus­tralia’s Res­cue Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­ter on the search oper­a­tion, it added.

Al­though the spot­ting of sus­pected de­bris would help searchers lo­cate the air­craft, a vet­eran ma­rine ex­pert warned that the huge amount of ma­rine de­bris in the ocean will make it dif­fi­cult to au­then­ti­cate the source of ob­jects spotted by satel­lites.

“Any search and res­cue at­tempt will be ham­pered by un­told quan­ti­ties of de­bris,” Charles Moore, a sailor and re­searcher at the Al­galita Ma­rine Re­search In­sti­tute in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, told The New York Times.

There are no firm data about ma­rine de­bris, but stud­ies of shore­line cleanup projects and other ac­tiv­i­ties sug­gest that four-fifths of what is float­ing in the ocean orig­i­nates from land sources, the news­pa­per said. Nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, in­clud­ing hur­ri­canes, ty­phoons and tsunamis, also con­trib­ute large amounts of de­bris.

Searchers look­ing for a de­bris field of MH370 are now search­ing an area known as the In­dian Ocean Gyre, a re­gion where there is lit­tle move­ment of the ocean’s cur­rents, leading to the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of float­ing garbage.

Un­fa­vor­able weather forced all air­craft in­volved in the search to sus­pend their op­er­a­tions on Thurs­day, but five ships in the area con­tin­ued the hunt for de­bris de­spite the dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

The Aus­tralian Mar­itime Safety Author­ity said it had to ground all 11 planes sched­uled to par­tic­i­pate in the search on Thurs­day be­cause of heavy rain, winds and low clouds.

Three Chi­nese naval ships, in­clud­ing two he­li­copters, and two mil­i­tary trans­port planes are search­ing the In­dian Ocean west of Aus­tralia, De­fense Min­istry spokesman Geng Yan­sheng said on Thurs­day. Pu Zhendong and Xin­hua con­trib­uted to this story.

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