A number of orange objects spotted from planes searching for crashed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over the weekend have been located and identified as discarded fishing equipment, again frustrating officials hoping they had found a credible lead.
The Associated Press has more details on the disappointing discovery:
The crew of an Australian P-3 Orion search plane spotted at least four orange objects that were more than 2 meters (6 feet) in size on Sunday, and the pilot, Flight Lt. Russell Adams, dubbed the sighting their most promising lead in the search for Flight 370. But on Monday, Jesse Platts, a spokesman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, said the objects had been analyzed and officials had confirmed "they have nothing to do with the missing flight."
None of the floating objects spotted from search missions or via satellite have turned out to be related to MH370, but officials have pledged to continue looking for answers. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday that "the intensity of our search and the magnitude of our search is increasing, not decreasing," adding that "we can keep searching for quite some time to come."
As of Monday, 10 ships and 10 aircraft were scanning the search zone off the coast of Perth for any trace of the crashed flight. An Australian warship was scheduled to head towards the area — which is about the size of Poland — on Monday evening, carrying a "towed ping locator" that should be able to detect data sent out automatically from the plane's black box. The challenge of actually finding the black box, however, remains daunting.
Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who has acted as conduit of information (or lack thereof) to the press and public on the search for the flight, will meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on a trip to Washington to discuss MH370 with American officials. Hishammuddin also reiterated a commitment to the mission, saying "We will continue searching and keep investigating. We will never give up.”
So far, all theories on what might have happened to the plane remain speculative. Though officials believe they have found the area, roughly, where the plane went down, they still have no idea what actually occurred aboard the flight. Missing files from the pilot's home-made flight simulator, which authorities thought could have pointed to him as responsible for intentionally crashing the plane, have turned out to be just more false leads. On Saturday, Hishammuddin said "nothing sinister" was found on the simulator.
Meanwhile, distressed Chinese families of MH370 passengers await news in Kuala Lumpur. In a statement to the press, the families' representative offered thanks to the Chinese government and volunteer search crew, but added that "To those who are guilty of harming our loved ones, hiding the truth, and delaying the search and rescue, we will also definitely not forgive them." On Sunday, some of the families staged a protest outside a Malaysian hotel to express displeasure with how the case has been handled.
Some still suspect that the plane did not crash, given the complete lack of any recovered evidence, and are holding out hope until a search turns out tangible proof of that ill fate. But, according to Abbott, there's no question that the plane has crashed at sea. He said, "the accumulation of evidence is that the aircraft has been lost and it has been lost somewhere in the south of the Indian Ocean."