The Malaysia Airlines mystery may be a small step closer to a solution Sunday as new satellite images, this time provided by the French government, appeared to show more evidence of debris in the Indian Ocean, along the same possible flight path that earlier images from Australia and China showed what might have been floating wreckage.
The problem is, while the satellite images may show the remains of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, searchers have not been able to confirm that belief. Every time the areas where debris has been spotted by satellite are searched by ship or aircraft, whatever was shown in the satellite images has gone.
The only possible exception came Saturday when spotters in a search plane said they saw a floating wooden palette with various types of straps floating in waters around the object. But the spotters did not take any pictures and no other aircraft was able to spot such a palette.
Search authorities in Malaysia said Sunday that they received “new satellite images from the French authorities showing potential objects in the vicinity of the southern corridor.”
While the images themselves, or any descriptions of what they show, have not been officially released, a Malaysian official told the Associated Press that the French photos show debris about 575 miles north of where the previous Chinese and Australian images were snapped. But the French images are indistinct, making it difficult to determine what they actually depict.
Currents in that far-off area of the Indian Ocean are strong and could carry even heavy debris hundreds of miles in a short time period, experts say.
The Malaysia authorities said they quickly conveyed the new images to Australia. That country is coordinating current search efforts, because based on the three sets of satellite images over the past week as well as earlier tracking data from a “ping” signal sent from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane to a satellite, it is now thought that Flight 370 could have gone down in a remote area of the Indian Ocean about 1,500 miles southwest of the Australian city of Perth.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, vanished March 8 after its main communications systems were cut off and, according to what investigators have been able to piece together, the plane suddenly veered west and south, flying thousands of miles off its planned course.
While the latest satellite images give further credence to the belief that the Malaysia Airlines plane ended up somewhere in the Indian Ocean, they may help solve the puzzle of where Flight 370 went — but the “why” remains a total mystery.
Why did the plane suddenly take a drastic turn and speed toward the South Pole?
Investigators have concluded that the Malaysia Airlines plane was taken off course by a “deliberate act,” but who could have done such a thing and again, why, is likely to remain unanswered for months or even years — assuming answers to those questions are ever found.