Fourteen days after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, finding it remains global search and rescue effort. The bulk of the attention is on the southern Indian Ocean, where a commercial satellite photographed objects that Australian authorities say could be related to the search.
Authorities have called the find the best lead yet on where the missing plane might be, and it has prompted a massive search in the area more than 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) southwest of Australia. So far, they have turned up nothing.
The search in the southern Indian Ocean is over for the day, and nothing was found. The CEO of Malaysia Airlines confirmed that the plane was carrying lithium-ion batteries. And authorities said they’re aware of a news report that the plane’s pilot placed a cell phone call shortly before the flight departed.
There may not be any, but in a mystery as big as this one, investigators will check out any lead to see if it’s important.
Lithium-ion batteries are the type commonly used in laptops and cell phones, and have been known to explode, although it is a rare occurrence.
A fire attributed to lithium-ion batteries caused the fatal 2010 crash of a UPS cargo plane in Dubai. Lithium-ion batteries used to power components in Boeing 787 aircraft were also implicated in a series of fires affecting that plane.
So, in theory, a cargo of the batteries could have caused a fire that led Flight 370 to crash.
But Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told reporters the batteries were routine cargo.
“They are not declared dangerous goods” he said, adding that they were “some small batteries, not big batteries.”
The area being searched is enormous and remote. Aircraft can stay over the scene just two hours before having to return to base. And given that the objects spotted on satellite could have drifted hundreds of miles since they were photographed Sunday, or maybe have even sunk by now, finding them isn’t a simple proposition.
Japan is sending surveillance planes, more merchant ships are on the way, and Australia, Britain, China and Malaysia are all sending ships to the area — a remote region far from commercial shipping and air lanes.