Flight MH370: Chinese satellites locate 'large object' in Indian Ocean

BEIJING - A large piece of floating debris has been spotted in the remote Indian Ocean search zone for missing flight MH370, it was revealed yesterday.

Chinese satellites picked up signs of a “suspicious” object measuring 22 metres by 30 metres in an area 100km west of where Australia reported an earlier sighting of floating debris.

The images were taken at lunchtime on March 18, Chinese State media reported, just two days after the sighting by Australian satellites singled out the area in the southern Indian Ocean.

The discovery was revealed yesterday morning by Malaysia’s acting Transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein at a press conference where he gave the latest updates on the search for the missing airliner.

He made the announcement after being handed a handwritten note, adding that Chinese authorities would make an official announcement “in a couple of hours”.

Hussein told reporters at the press conference in Kuala Lumpur: “The Chinese ambassador has received satellite images of floating objects in the southern corridor and they will be sending ships to investigate.

“This floating object is 22m long by 30m wide.” His figures were contradicted by Chinese media, suggesting that portions of the message were lost in translation.

“I’m going to follow this up immediately,” Hussein added.

Hussein earlier told reporters that conditions in the search area are “very challenging” with a tropical cyclone forecast to move in.

“In the area where possible objects were identified by Australian authorities, there are strong currents and rough seas,” he said.

“A cyclone warning has been declared for Tropical Cyclone Gillian, which is located in the southern corridor. Very strong winds and rough seas are expected there today.”

China said an image of the object had been captured by its high-definition earth observation satellite “Gaofen-1”. The location was south by west of the possible debris announced by Australia on Thursday.

The latest possible lead in the hunt for the jetliner comes two weeks after it disappeared from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking-off from the Malaysian capital on a scheduled flight to Beijing.

The announcement came after the first Australian Orion aircraft to make a sortie over the target zone for missing Flight MH370 returned without success.

Flying Officer Peter Moore, the aircraft’s captain, said a combination of “less than ideal” weather and sea conditions had closed in on the flight.

He said his crew had flown through “a thick layer of cloud from 2000 feet  to 500 feet, isolate showers and sea fog above the surface.”

However, the aircraft had managed to cover 100 percent of its planned search area, with RAAF officers manning the visual observer station on board.

“However, we weren’t able to find any evidence of wreckage from the missing Malaysian aircraft,” officer Moore said.

It came as Australia’s acting prime minister yesterday said his forces air and sea search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 “will continue while there’s still hope”.

Warren Truss said no time limit had been placed on the operation which will continue “indefinitely” and “until we are absolutely satisfied further searching is futile.”

He spoke at RAAF airbase Pearce in Perth, western Australia, after meeting with sailors and airmen who have been scouring a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean where debris was spotted by satellite six days ago.

Australia, which announced the potential find and is coordinating the rescue, has cautioned the objects might be a lost shipping container or other debris and may have since sunk.

Two weeks after the Malaysian airliner carrying 239 people vanished, international teams were stepping up their search yesterday.

Weather conditions were difficult in the area identified by Australian satellite pictures, Malaysian officials said in a press conference yesterday, with strong currents and rough seas, and a cyclone predicted to be on the way to the area.

Searches by more than two dozen countries have so far turned up little but frustration and fresh questions about the passenger jet which disappeared on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

Six aircraft and two merchant ships were hunting for signs of the jet yesterday.

Asked whether there were any other satellite images yet to be released, Truss said the Australia was “not seeking to with hold information.”

“If there is new imagery that is relevant and can be released to the media,  it will be,” he said.

“We know the families are anxious for information.”

Truss and the operation’s commander, Group Captain Craig Heap, said identifying and locating the two objects captured on satellite images would most likely be done with the naked eye.

“It is primarily a visual search,” Truss said. “You need to be low, you need to be close.”

Captain Heap added: “It’s a very difficult search, but if there’s something out there and we are on top of the area will find [it].”

Speaking on the edge of the air base tarmac as the sixth search plane of the day prepared to take off for the remote Indian ocean, Truss said the arrival of two Chinese planes yesterday and a Japanese aircraft tomorrow, as well as Chinese naval boats soon was a huge boost to the operation.

“This search is intensive,” he said.

‘We have had 15 sorties so far and no findings, but we are searching new areas because of the drift that has occurred.

“With the arrival of the Chinese fleet, with refuelling [support], it has the capability to stay in the area for a long time.”

Truss dismissed a suggestion the Australian Government had waited too long to act following the discovery of the satellite images, risking the debris sinking to the ocean floor.

He said the search had been launched at the earliest possible moment “in relation to the time of the imagery was created” and “as soon as they were identified” the government had acted.

Comments (2)

prophet tb joshua gave a prophecy in june last year and wrote letters to the malaysian people now only yest he said the debris is being forced down coz of waves....people perished because of lack of knowledge there is no hope here the prophet has spoken....may the souls rest in peace and people will continue to perish cz of lack of knowledge honour the man of God and do as they say they live beyond the physical and God speaks the wise listen...

sue - 24 March 2014

is it not time for people epecially in the first world turned to listen to God even if it is from an african man/ minister. emmanual tv advert always says hear God's opinion about yourself, your country and the world. and God just wants to do that because he does not do anything with making it known to his servants the prophets.

see - 24 March 2014

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