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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Chinese satellite spots large new object could be related to missing MH370

The Chinese embassy here confirmed Saturday that Chinese satellite spotted a 22-meter-long and 13-meter-wide floating object along the southern corridor missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 might have taken. Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who placed the size of the object at 22 meters by 30 meters at a press conference, later corrected his statement. Photo: Xinhua / State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense

The Chinese embassy in Malaysia confirmed Saturday a Chinese satellite had spotted a floating object along the southern corridor missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 might have taken.

The satellite images, which China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said were taken Tuesday, show that the 22-meter-long, 13-meter-wide object was about 120 km southwest of suspicious debris, one of which was of similar size, captured by an Australian satellite (belonged to DigitalGlobe Inc, an American Colorado-based company that collects imagery for the US government and other countries, as well as private companies ) two days earlier and announced by Australian authorities Thursday.

Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put the size of the object at 22 meters by 30 meters at a press conference, but later corrected his statement.

Australia's acting prime minister Warren Truss said Saturday the suspicious objects remained "the best lead" in the massive search for the missing flight.

The objects might have either drifted or sunk, but "if there's something to be found, I'm confident this search will find it," Truss told a press conference.

The hunt would continue "indefinitely" until "we are absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile," he said. "That day is not in sight."

In response to Xinhua queries, he said there were many explanations for the satellite images provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) but they remained "a very credible lead."

What Australia needed to do now was exert all possible efforts to search for the missing plane, he told Xinhua.

On Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Australian satellite had spotted two objects, one 24 meters long, in the southern Indian Ocean possibly related to the Boeing 777 aircraft which disappeared early March 8 while carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The discovery led the multinational search forces to focus on a 36,000-square-km sea area about 2,500 km southwest of Perth, but so far there have been no findings of note.

Meanwhile, two Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft from the Chinese Air Force left Malaysia on Saturday for Australia to join the search in the southern Indian Ocean.

With Australian and New Zealand airforce P3 Orions limited by the vast distances and their dependence on infrared imaging, the Chinese IL-76 will be a welcome relief to the authorities here as the challenges of the task at hand begin to overwhelm available resources.

Commander Liu Dianjun told Xinhua he hoped the integration of Chinese military assets could precipitate a swift conclusion to the agonizing international search.

A Malaysian military official said the arrival of the Chinese aircraft beefed up the assets deployed for the search and rescue operation and boosted confidence of all the staff from different countries involved in the operation.

Truss also said the same day the arrival of Chinese military aircraft had provided a glimmer of hope.

A Chinese joint working group also paid two visits to family members of Chinese passengers on Saturday and Wednesday.

Guo Shaochun, head of the Chinese task force, said two weeks had passed since flight MH370 went missing and they were as anxious as the family members about what happened to the passengers.

Guo said the Chinese government attached great importance to coordinating support with Malaysia for the family members, and the Malaysian authorities said they would always be responsible.

"Please be at ease and take good care of yourselves, whether staying in Malaysia or leaving the country, your choice will be respected," he said.

Family members said their major concern was to find their loved ones, and they hoped Malaysia would keep them posted about any findings and intensify search and investigation efforts.

Meanwhile, the Indian government told Malaysian investigators it had found no evidence the missing jet flew through its airspace after checking its radar records, local media reported Saturday.

India's response is crucial, as any of their radar data could help identify whether the jet turned north or south after disappearing off radar, but the issue is also sensitive because of the presence of military radar. - Xinhua

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