Looks like this second-last week of 2016 is going to be the biggest newsweek -- not to be confused with the useless magazine of the same name -- of the year. It's only Tuesday and so far we've got four Islamic terrorist attacks, the election of Donald Trump by the Electoral College [not really news. Ed.] and now... wait for it... confirmation of what Walt has been saying for well over a year: The "experts" conducting the search for Malaysian Airlines MH370 have been looking in the wrong place!
That's right, folks. You read it here as early as 18 December 2014 ("Just fancy that!"), and even before! (Click here to see all of Walt's posts on MH370.) For two years, in spite of questions raised by my goodself and numerous other sceptics, the Australian-led search team have been looking for debris from the missing B-777 in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean west of Australia. Today, at last, the sleuths made what was surely a painful admission: they've probably been looking in the wrong place. Probably? Hah! Definitely is the correct word. And I have no hesitation in saying: I told you so!
The latest analysis by a team of international investigators concluded the vanished aircraft is "highly unlikely" to be in the current search zone and may instead be in a region farther north. Since the plane disappeared in March 2014, the "experts" have analyzed a series of exchanges between the aircraft and a satellite to estimate a probable crash site somewhere in a vast arc of ocean in the southeastern part of the Indian Ocean. A deep-sea search of a tens of thousands of square miles of water along the arc came up empty.
To make matters worse, as Walt told you last May ("MH370: 5 pieces now, all in 'the wrong place'"), pieces of debris kept turning up on shores at the western end of the Indian Ocean, in such places as Madagascar, Réunion, Mozambique and South Africa. To elucidate the fuzzification, the "experts" went back over the satellite data and did a drift analysis of the (by now) more than 20 items of debris likely to have come from the plane. The analysis, based on where the items washed up and when, suggested the debris originated somewhere "farther north".
The report identifies a 25,000 square kilometre area to the north of the current search zone as the most likely place where MH370 hit the water, the report said. The investigators concluded with "a high degree of confidence" that the plane is not in the current search area, and that the new area needs to be searched.
So will they extend the search to that area, beyond the planned completion date of 31 December? Errr, no. Australia’s transport minister, Darren Chester, who has to wear this one, suggested the analysis wasn't specific enough to justify continuing the hunt. In other words: show us where it is, and we'll have a look. Besides, there's no more money. So that's it, then. MH370 and over 200 pax and crew can rest undisturbed in their watery grave. Let's move on to other things that are less likely to prove embarrassing for all concerned.