As it happened: Search for MH370 shifts north

Key Points

  • Five planes spot unidentified objects in a new area of the Indian Ocean being searched for flight MH370
  • The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has moved 1,100km to the north-east of the previous area
  • Australian officials say this is a "credible lead" based on updated advice provided by the international investigation team in Malaysia
  • The Kuala Lumpur-Beijing airliner disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board
  • The plane is presumed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors
  • All times GMT

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    Welcome to our live page on the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.


    The plane went missing on 8 March as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 passengers on board. It is now believed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.


    Searchers had until today been focussing on an area some 2,500km (1,550 miles) from the Australian city of Perth.


    But early on Friday Australian officials announced that search efforts would shift 1,100km north-east, after what they described as a "credible lead".


    The lead is based on radar data analysis, which indicated the plane was travelling faster than previously estimated, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) says in a statement.


    This would have resulted in increased fuel usage, reducing the possible distance the aircraft travelled south into the Indian Ocean, Amsa adds.


    The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), Australia's investigation agency, has examined this new information and described it as "the most credible lead to where debris may be located".


    The new search area is around 319,000 sq km (123,000 sq miles), and is located around 1,850 km (1,150 miles) west of Perth, Amsa says.


    Australia says it has re-tasked satellites to take images of the new search area. It is not clear if the new information means that previous satellite sightings of objects in the sea are no longer relevant to the search.

    Royal New Zealand Air force Flight Lt Stephen Graham walks around their P-3C Orion in Perth, Australia, 27 March 2014

    Ten aircraft will take part in Friday's search for signs of the missing plane. These include a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion, pictured here.


    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will hold a press conference at 1430 Canberra time (0330 GMT). They are expected to provide more details on the new search area then.

    03:20: Jonathan Head BBC News, Perth

    With so little known about the fate of flight MH 370, even now new information can dramatically change the direction of the search operation. The new zone is closer to Western Australia, which should enable the surveillance aircraft to spend longer scanning the sea for debris.


    Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the new information as "a credible new lead [which] will be thoroughly investigated today".

    "As I have said from the start, we owe it to [the families] to follow every credible lead and to keep the public informed of significant new developments."

    Channel News Asia reporter Sumisha Naidu

    tweets: Malaysia Airlines will be making arrangements to take family members to Perth, should physical wreckage be found. #MH370

    A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft is pictured in the sunset twilight after returning from a search flight for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth, 27 March 2014

    Search efforts were suspended within a few hours on Thursday due to bad weather conditions. However, Amsa says weather conditions have improved and planes from Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, China and the US will be deployed on Friday.


    The Australia Maritime Safety Authority press conference is now underway.


    Four of 10 search planes are already in the search area, John Young from Amsa says.


    The depth of water in search area is between 2,000m and 4,000m, Mr Young says.


    The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says the information provided by the international investigation team is the "most credible lead we currently have". However this information needs to be continually adjusted for the length of time since the aircraft went missing and likely drift of any wreckage, ATSB adds.


    "We have moved on from those search areas" further south, based on the new "credible" information, Mr Young from Amsa says.


    The new search area is closer to Australia, which means search teams "will certainly get better time on scene", Amsa's Mr Young says.


    Furthermore, weather conditions are expected to be better in the new search area. "The search area has moved out of the roaring forties, which creates adverse weather," Mr Young adds.


    Amsa warns against classifying any satellite sightings of objects so far as debris.


    ATSB stresses that under the relevant international convention, Malaysia has investigative responsibility for flight MH370, while ATSB is assisting in the investigation. "We are in the search operating on behalf of the Malaysian government," ATSB says.


    Australia says radar and satellite polling data was combined with analysis on the likely path of the flight, and aircraft performance, in determining where to locate the search.


    ATSB says the search "has a long way to go yet".

    File photo: John Young speaks to the media, 20 March 2014

    Amsa's John Young says: "Knowing what happens to the water [in the search area] is very important."

    "There'll be a significant amount of random dispersion of objects" in the sea where the plane hit the water, "so the search area steadily gets bigger."


    Mr Young says search teams will put datum marker buoys into the search area. The devices report their movements by satellite, providing information about likely object flows, and potentially helping keep the search area confined.

    Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Nick Dole

    tweets: AMSA: new search zone calculated by combining radar data with known fuel/performance info. I.e it probably ran out of fuel earlier. #MH370


    Amsa says in a statement that "six ships are relocating to the new search area including HMAS Success and five Chinese ships. Chinese Maritime Safety Administration patrol ship, Haixun 01, is in the search area."


    Australian navy ship HMAS Success is expected to arrive in the new search area on Saturday night.


    Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan says that the radar analysis "has been combined with information about the likely performance of the aircraft—such as speed and fuel consumption for example—to arrive at the best assessment of the area in which the aircraft is likely to have entered the water".


    Mr Dolan adds: "The information provided by the international investigative team is the most credible lead we currently have in the search of aircraft wreckage. However, this information needs to be continually adjusted for the length of time elapsed since the aircraft went missing and the likely drift of any wreckage floating on the ocean surface."

    Chart of cumulative area searched, 28 March 2014

    The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has released a chart of the cumulative area searched (in grey) and Friday's planned search area (in yellow).


    To recap: Australian officials say they are shifting search efforts to a new area around 1,850km west of Perth. The new search area is around 319,000 sq km.


    To recap: The new search area is closer to west Australia than the previous search zone, which means planes will be able to spend longer scanning the area for signs of the plane.

    04:58: Paul Adams BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

    With so many satellites peering down at the same patch of southern ocean, it's perhaps not surprising that each day now seems to bring word of new sightings. But none of these sightings has yet been confirmed as representing the wreckage of MH370. Until a low flying search aircraft or ship is able to identify one or more objects, each new sighting has to be treated with a degree of caution.

    NBC News Foreign Correspondent Keir Simmons

    tweets: The impression from the Australians now... all of the satellite imagery from the last few days is irrelevant - does not show #370 debris.


    To recap: Previous satellite sightings of floating objects in the old search area no longer appear relevant to the investigation. Amsa says it has "moved on" from the previous search area.

    File photo:  A P-8A Poseidon aircraft during a mission to assist in search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, 24 March 2014

    The US is also dispatching a second surveillance plane, a P-8 Poseidon aircraft, to Perth to assist the search.

    "We believe - and just as importantly, the Malaysian government believes - that the most important asset that we have that we can help them with are these long-range maritime patrol aircraft," Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

    A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 reacts after hearing a briefing from Malaysian government officials at the Lido Hotel in Beijing, 27 March 2014

    Relatives of those on the plane have now been waiting anxiously for 21 days for news on the plane. In private, some relatives are slowly and painfully embracing the idea that, after more than two weeks, MH370 is gone, the BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing says. You can read the full report on our China blog here.

    NBC Chief Global Correspondent Bill Neely

    tweets: US hs delivered a 'towed pinger locator' 2 Perth 2 hunt black box of #MH370. Ship 2 tow it only docks today- 11days B4 black box signal fades


    The new search location should make operations easier, Commander William J Marks of the US 7th Fleet tells the BBC. "It does get this search area closer to Perth. And that was one of the biggest challenges, because [the previous] area was such a long distance away... two-thirds of a flight was just transit time."

    05:31: Phil Mercer BBC News, Perth

    It's almost three weeks since flight MH370 vanished and there's been a significant shift in the hunt for clues off Australia's west coast. Following analysis of radar data, they now believe the missing jet was flying faster than previously thought and was burning off fuel more quickly.

    File photo: John Young speaks to reporters, 20 March 2014

    An area 1,100km to the north east of the existing search area is now the most credible lead as to where debris may be located, John Young from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says. You can watch a clip of the press conference here.


    Malaysia Airlines says it will hold a press conference at 18:00 Malaysia time (10:00 GMT) on Friday. The conference will follow a media briefing by Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, the airline says.


    It is a really terrible, agonising time for families, the BBC's Jennifer Pak in Kuala Lumpur reports. Families have braced themselves, but until they see the physical aircraft, they won't believe the plane is in Indian Ocean, our correspondent adds.


    Chinese relatives of the passengers on the flight have written to Beijing's special envoy in Kuala Lumpur, asking China to launch its own investigation into the missing plane, AFP news agency reports. Many in China have been critical of Malaysia's handling of the crisis.

    An RAAF Orion aircraft takes off from Pearce Airbase in Bullsbrook, 35 kms north of Perth on 28 March 2014

    A Royal Australian Air Force Orion aircraft takes off from Pearce Airbase in Bullsbrook, 35km north of Perth, on Friday, as planes head to a new search area around 1,850km (1,150 miles) west of Perth.

    China Xinhua News

    tweets: Chinese insurance companies have begun paying compensation to families of passengers aboard missing #MH370

    ABC correspondent David Wright

    tweets: So far as we can tell, the new search area is close to the original southern search area - before all the possible satellite pings


    The 10 aircraft will have significantly shorter flights to the search area on Friday, which should allow more flying hours over the search area, the BBC's Phil Mercer in Perth reports.

    'The fish' sonar device

    For all the ships, satellites and spotter planes, there is only way to find things under the water. The BBC's Richard Westcott checks out sonar equipment that is likely to be used in the search for the missing plane in this video.


    John Young from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says that the shift to a new search area does not mean the original work was "a waste of time". "This is the normal business of search and rescue operations, that new information comes to light, refined analysis take you to a different place," he says.


    To recap: An international search operation for the missing plane is currently ongoing in an area of the southern Indian Ocean. Ten aircraft are involved in Friday's search, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said. The aircraft are from Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, China and the US.


    To recap: The search area has moved to a new part of the southern Indian Ocean. Previous search efforts focused on an area some 2,500km (1,550 miles) to the south-west of the Australian city of Perth. Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said the search would now focus on an area 1,100km north-east of the previous zone.

    South China Morning Post

    tweets: Chinese online travel agencies ban Malaysia Airlines ticket sales following MH370 crisis |


    Chinese media report on the impact of the missing plane on Beijing-Kuala Lumpur ties. A commentary in the Chinese edition of the Global Times points out that Malaysian authorities have been "demonised" by some people, which is not a "rational" view. More details on the BBC's China media round-up here.


    The disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane has gripped television viewers in the US. The BBC's Kate Dailey looks at the numbers in this video report.


    Several nations have released satellite images showing objects in the sea in recent days. Mike Coffin, of the University of Tasmania, said this raised questions about the quality of satellite data. "There is all kinds of debris in the ocean," he told AP. "When you are out there, you see stuff all the time."


    Here is what we know so far about the objects that have been captured on satellite images. But officials say search efforts are now focused in a new area and satellites will be retasked accordingly.

    08:00: Jonathan Head BBC News, Perth

    tweets: New search zone for #MH370 1100 mms NE shows limit of info on missing plane. New estimate is of plane's speed over Malacca Strait only.


    More on objects in the sea from Professor Callum Roberts at the University of York. "The currents move rubbish together, they accumulate it there and they hold it there. Things that have been washed there from the land, things that have been washed there off ships, all of that is gradually building up."


    Prof Callum Roberts, University of York: "Some of it sinks to the bottom but a lot of it is still floating there and so we can come across huge areas of garbage in the ocean."


    How can relatives of passengers on the missing plane deal with the uncertainty of the situation? Psychologist Paul Yin explains to the BBC in this interview here.

    Organisers arrange black ribbons during a ceremony in memory of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday, 28 March 2014

    Vigils have been held around the world for those on board flight MH370. Mystery still surrounds the fate of the plane, which vanished from civilian radar less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on 8 March.


    We are expecting a news conference in about an hour from Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

    The Sraits Times

    tweets: RT @STForeignDesk: Mass walk-out by relatives of #MH370 Chinese passengers, in protest of "useless" briefing.

    The Straits Times

    tweets: MT @STForeignDesk: 1 relative stayed & asked M'sia officials if lives are more impt than national interest & left without hearing answer.


    Days ago, they were strangers to one another. But relatives of those on board the missing plane have formed a support network. The BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing writes about their situation on the China blog here.


    AP news agency describes the new search area of about 319,000 sq km (123,000 sq miles) in the southern Indian Ocean as about the size of Poland.


    The regular press briefing is now underway in Malaysia.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is speaking right now.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein: The plane flew at a higher speed than previously thought.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein: It is a process of continually refining data.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein: Malaysia received satellite images from Japan and Thailand on Thursday. Other nations have also supplied images. Range of objects shows how complex the search operation is.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein: Australia continues to lead efforts in the search area. The new area, although more focussed than before, remains considerable.


    Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya is speaking right now.


    Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya: The families want to see evidence of the aircraft.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein: We will look at all possible technology in our search for the black box.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein: Our immediate focus is to try and get to the debris sighted by satellites so we can identify for sure if the debris sighted belongs to MH370.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishamumuddin Hussein is asked if the investigation would have done anything differently with the benefit of hindsight. He repeats his assertion that he believes history will judge the search effort fairly.

    Channel NewsAsia

    tweets: #MH370: New satellite images fr Japan, Thailand join those fr China and Australia and France.


    The daily press briefing in Malaysia has just concluded.


    One key point from the MH370 briefing: Because of ocean drift, the new search area could still be consistent with the potential objects identified by various satellite images over the past week


    Recap from press briefing: Malaysia's acting transport minister said the search for the missing plane "has been further refined".


    Recap from press briefing: Malaysian officials are working with an international group that includes representatives from the UK, China and the US.


    Recap from press briefing: "The group has been working to refine the Inmarsat data, and to analyse it - together with other information, including radar data and aircraft performance assumptions - to narrow the search area."


    Recap from press briefing: "In addition, international partners - who continue to process data in their home countries, as well as in the international working group - have further refined existing data. They have also come up with new technical information, for example on aircraft performance."


    Recap from press briefing: "Yesterday, this process yielded new results, which indicated that MH370 flew at a higher speed than previously thought, which in turn means it used more fuel and could not travel as far."

    Muslims join Friday prayers at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, 28 March 2014

    In Kuala Lumpur, Muslims prayed for passengers and crew of the missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370 on Friday.

    Breaking News Australian Maritime Safety Authority

    tweets: RNZAF Orion spotted objects in #MH370 search area, identity to be established. Soon to land @ RAAF Pearce. AMSA awaiting imagery. 1/2

    Breaking News Australia Maritime Safety Authority

    tweets: Sightings need confirmation by ship - not expected until tomorrow. #MH370 2/2


    BBC correspondent Andy Moore has been covering the disappearance of the plane and will be taking viewers' questions on the BBC News Channel at 14:30. Is there something you would like to ask him? You can email

    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, right, answers a reporter's question as Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya

    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, right, headed the regular press briefing on Friday.


    The BBC's Phil Mercer in Perth: The air crew team from New Zealand spotted the possible objects reported in the search area.

    Thomas Hardy, Epping, England

    emails: Despite all the manpower, equipment and modern day technology thrown at the search, I get the increasing impression that the process has been badly coordinated and lacking in cohesive thinking by the many authorities who have become involved. The press has been fed lead after lead over the past 3 plus weeks yet every single one has proved fruitless. This must have put the relatives and friends of those onboard the aircraft through a living hell.


    Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, has been working with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) to track movements of possible debris. In a blog post, they explain how their technology is being used and how they are assisting Amsa.

    11:42: Phil Mercer BBC News, Perth

    The crew on board a New Zealand military plane has reported spotting several objects in the Indian Ocean west of Perth. A surveillance ship isn't expected to reach the area until Saturday. There has been no sign of the missing jet since it disappeared on 8 March.


    Some key questions remain unanswered as the search for the missing plane continues. Why did the plane make a sharp left turn? Could the pilot could have intended to kill himself? The BBC's Vanessa Barford discusses some of the questions.

    The sole representative of the Chinese passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines plane, MH370 walks away from the Malaysian delegation after other relatives left en masse to protest the lack of meaningful answers from the Malaysian delegation at a hotel in Beijing, China, Friday, 28 March 2014

    A briefing in Beijing with relatives of passengers on the missing plane ended abruptly after an hour, with relatives walking out in anger, the BBC has found out. Some of the relatives said the information given by Malaysian officials was not very useful.


    Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said earlier on Friday that the search for the missing plane "has been further refined". Watch a video of the briefing here.


    A journalist on board the New Zealand plane which spotted the objects on Friday took this image of one of them:

    An image of the one of the objects spotted by a New Zealand plane on Friday

    At the end of the day's search, the Australian authorities announce in a statement that five planes have now spotted objects in the new search area.


    They say Australian and New Zealand planes spotted "multiple objects of various colours" and a Chinese patrol ship will try to relocate the objects on Saturday.


    In earlier phases of the search, crews had struggled to relocate objects that were sighted by only one plane, so the multiple sighting appears to be something of a breakthrough. Though Australian officials stressed the objects were not yet confirmed to be from the plane.


    For maps and details of the new search area, have a look at our background piece on the hunt for the plane.


    We're wrapping up our live coverage of the hunt for the missing Malaysia for the day. Please check our main news pages for updates.


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