World

Aussie agency says it knows where MH370 crashed

SYDNEY/KUALA LUMPUR: Australia's main scientific agency said yesterday it believed with "unprecedented precision and certainty" that a missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft crashed into the sea north-east of an area scoured in a fruitless, nearly three-year underwater search.

Its assertion is based on satellite pictures taken two weeks after MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

But the Australian government rejected the conclusion of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), saying it was not specific enough.

The Boeing 777 is thought to have been diverted thousands of kilometres off course over the southern Indian Ocean before crashing off the coast of Western Australia.

Australia, Malaysia and China called off a A$200 million (S$214 million) search for the plane in January this year after finding nothing.

CSIRO had previously raised doubts about the main 120,000 sq km underwater search zone, saying it believed the plane went down to the north of it.

Its latest assertion was based on a review of satellite images provided by the French military intelligence service and its space agency, which showed 70 pieces of debris with a dozen of those "probably" man-made.

"We think it is possible to identify a most-likely location of the aircraft, with unprecedented precision and certainty," CSIRO said.

Its oceanographer and the report's lead author, Mr David Griffin, said if the debris in the pictures were authentic, it supported ocean-drift analysis pointing to a crash zone to the north of the area that was most thoroughly searched.

Australia has not ruled out resuming the search, but said that would depend on credible evidence of its whereabouts.

Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Aziz Kaprawi said the nation had not given up, and it has called for a meeting with Australian and Chinese authorities to discuss an offer from a private seabed exploration firm, Ocean Infinity, to resume the search for free, and would seek payment only if the aircraft was found.- REUTERS

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