The Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 search appeared to have a break this week when scientists in Australia released a five-second audio clip of what could be the plane’s crash, but experts say there is a better-than-likely chance it’s not the missing plane at all.
On Wednesday, researchers from Curtin University in Perth, Australia, released the audio that they said could be consistent with the low-frequency sounds caused by a plane crashing into the ocean. The recording was made the day the Boeing 777 went missing and was captured on ocean floor monitoring devices used to detect earthquakes.
While the development was hailed as a break in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, experts warned that there is only a slim chance the noise was caused by the missing plane.
“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that these sounds came from the plane,” Alec Duncan, a senior fellow at Curtin University, told NBC News. “But there’s about a 90 percent chance they are from another source.”
Duncan, who is the director of the university’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology, said the mystery sound came from a wide search range.
“It’s area that stretches some 4,000 kilometers in length from southeast to northwest across the Indian Ocean, and spans some 200 to 300 kilometers in width at its widest point,” he noted.
Others noted that the location of the underwater sound does not match the signals sent by Flight MH370 in its final moments over the Indian Ocean.
While an extensive search of the ocean floor off the coast of Australia where search crews believed they heard pings from the plane’s black box turned up nothing, efforts to find the missing plane have continued. This week a British sailor said she saw Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 “on fire” the night it went missing on March 8.
The woman said she was sailing with her husband in the Indian Ocean and saw the plane, but failed to come forward because she was embroiled in marital problems. Katherine Tee said after reviewing her GPS route, she realized it was close to the path that search crews believe the plan may have taken.
“This is what convinced me to file a report with the full track data for our voyage to the relevant authorities,” she told the Phuket Gazette in Thailand. “I looked back through our GPS logs and lo and behold, what we saw was consistent with the confirmed contact which the authorities had from MH370.”
While the new leads are being followed, the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues in the Indian Ocean.