The $140 million search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is thousands of miles off track, German scientists involved in the plane debris recovery say, pointing to the barnacles on the Boeing 777 wing part recovered in late July. They said the barnacles do not live in the area where the search efforts are ongoing, the Australian reported Tuesday.
Scientists have suggested the search be refocused north closer to the equator in the southern Indian Ocean than where experts believe the plane crashed. The researchers, who are from the Geomar Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel, have created simulations of Indian Ocean currents that corroborate their theory.
The wing's discovery on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean renewed efforts to find the missing airplane, which disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people on board during a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.
Search efforts have been focused in a 120,000 square mile stretch of ocean that is 2,000 kilometers west of Perth, Australia, but the scientists say it's nearly impossible to narrow down an area based on the location of one piece of debris.
"Our results show that the current focus of the search for the airplane southwest of Australia could lie too far to the south," scientist Jonathan Durgadoo told Der Spiegel.
But the scientists have not been able to identify the barnacles in person. Instead, they have based their evidence on photographs of the wreckage, saying French investigators have denied their requests for samples.
The German team's theory came as news broke a Spanish parts supplier for Boeing 777 jets raised doubts Tuesday the flaperon belonged to Flight MH370.
Malaysia, Australia and China reportedly plan to meet in early September to discuss redirecting search efforts.