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Scientists Identify New Search Area for Missing Malaysian Plane

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Scientists say they have identified a new, smaller search area for a Malaysian passenger airplane, which went missing in 2014.

The scientists are with the Australian government’s main scientific agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. They released a report about the missing plane on Wednesday.

The agency said it believed with great “precision and certainty” that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. It said scientists believe the plane, a Boeing 777, came down in waters northeast of an area that once was thought to be its final resting place.

Two years of searches failed to find evidence of the aircraft or the 239 people it was carrying. The plane disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, to Beijing on March 8, 2014.

The new report identified a 25,000-square-kilometer area off the coast of Western Australia as a likely crash site. The scientific agency said its finding was based on satellite images taken two weeks after Flight MH370 went missing.

The scientists said the images - provided by France’s military intelligence service - showed about 70 objects floating in the water. They described some of the debris as “probably” man-made.

In this March 22, 2014 file photo, a flight officer aboard a Royal Australian Air Force plane searches for signs of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia.
In this March 22, 2014 file photo, a flight officer aboard a Royal Australian Air Force plane searches for signs of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia.

The agency said it thinks the new findings could now make it possible “to identify a most-likely location of the aircraft.”

The two-year search operation was a joint effort of Australia, China and Malaysia. The operation was called off in January. About $160 million was spent on the search efforts. It was not clear whether the new report would lead to any new search efforts.

The Australian government reacted cautiously to the new report. The Transport Safety Bureau said in a statement the scientists had not proven that objects seen in the images came from the Malaysian plane.

Oceanographer David Griffin helped to prepare the report. He admitted the scientists cannot be totally sure that objects seen in the images are actual pieces of the plane.

However, he said this still may be “a really good clue” to find new evidence. “If you are going to search, then you'd be silly to ignore this potential clue,” he said.

French police officers carry a piece of debris, the first trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island, July 29, 2015.
French police officers carry a piece of debris, the first trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island, July 29, 2015.

The disappearance of Flight MH370 has become one of the world's greatest flight mysteries. The plane is thought to have gone thousands of kilometers off course before crashing in the Indian Ocean.

So far, only three large pieces of debris that washed ashore from the ocean have been confirmed as coming from the missing plane.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English based on reports from VOANews, Reuters and the Associated Press. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Do you think the search should continue for the missing plane? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

precision – n. quality of exactness or accuracy

certainty n. surety, not in doubt

debris n. pieces left over from something that was destroyed

cautiously – adj. acting extremely carefully, avoiding risks

clue – n. something that helps a person solve a mystery

silly adj. not serious, meaningful or important

potential adj. capable of becoming something in the future

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