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Chinese satellites find large object that could be from MH370

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- While possible clues about the fate of a Malaysia Airlines jet missing for more than two weeks keep coming from satellite images, it has been as frustrating as ever to turn the hints from space into actual sightings.

China on Saturday released a satellite image showing an object floating in a remote stretch of the southern Indian Ocean near where planes and ships have been crisscrossing since similar images from an Australian satellite emerged earlier in the week. China's image, showing an object that appeared to be 22 meters (72 feet) by 13 meters (43 feet), was taken around noon Tuesday.

"The news that I just received is that the Chinese ambassador received a satellite image of a floating object in the southern corridor and they will be sending ships to verify," Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.

Australian officials said the location was within the 36,000-square-kilometer (14,000-square-mile) area they searched on Saturday, but the object was not found. Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Andrea Hayward-Maher said she did not know whether the precise coordinates of the location had been searched, but added that coordinators will use the information to refine the search area.

The authority, which is overseeing the search in the region, said a civil aircraft reported seeing a number of small objects in the search area, including a wooden pallet, but a New Zealand military plane diverted to the location found only clumps of seaweed. The agency said in a statement that searchers would keep trying to determine whether the objects are related to the lost plane.

Despite the frustrating lack of answers, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Sunday suggested the sightings were a positive development.

"Obviously we have now had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope - no more than hope, no more than hope - that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft," Abbott told reporters in Papua New Guinea.

The latest satellite image is another clue in the baffling search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which dropped off air traffic control screens March 8 over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board.

After about a week of confusion, Malaysian authorities said pings sent by the Boeing 777-200 for several hours after it disappeared indicated that the plane ended up in one of two huge arcs: a northern corridor stretching from Malaysia to Central Asia, or a southern corridor that stretches toward Antarctica.

The discovery of two objects by the Australian satellite led several countries to send planes and ships to a stretch of the Indian Ocean about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Australia. But three days of searching have produced no confirmed signs of the plane.

One of the objects spotted in the earlier satellite imagery was described as 24 meters (almost 80 feet) in length and the other was 5 meters (15 feet).

The Boeing 777-200 is about 64 meters (209 feet) long with a wingspan of 61 meters (199 feet) and a fuselage about 6.2 meters (20 feet) in diameter, according to Boeing's website.

In a statement on its website announcing China's find, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense did not explain why it took four days to release the information. But there was a similar delay in the release of the Australian satellite images because experts needed time to examine them.

Two military planes from China arrived Saturday in Perth and were expected on Sunday to join Australian, New Zealand and U.S. aircraft in the search. Japanese planes will arrive Sunday and ships were in the area or on their way.

Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said the currents in the area typically move at about one meter (yard) per second but can sometimes move faster.

Based on the typical speed, a current could theoretically move a floating object about 173 kilometers (107 miles) in two days.

But even if both satellites detected the same object, it may be unrelated to the plane. One possibility is that it could have fallen off a cargo vessel.

Warren Truss, Australia's acting prime minister while Abbott is abroad, said before the new satellite data was announced that a complete search could take a long time.

"It is a very remote area, but we intend to continue the search until we're absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile - and that day is not in sight," he said.

"If there's something there to be found, I'm confident that this search effort will locate it," Truss said from the base near Perth that is serving as a staging area for search aircraft.

Aircraft involved in the search include two ultra-long-range commercial jets and four P3 Orions, the maritime safety authority said.

Because the search area is a four-hour flight from land, the Orions can search for about only two hours before they must fly back. The commercial jets can stay for five hours before heading back to the base.

Two merchant ships were in the area, and the HMAS Success, a navy supply ship, had also joined the search.

A small flotilla of ships from China will also join the hunt, along with a refueling vessel that will allow ships to stay in the search area for a long time, Truss said.

Hishammuddin, the Malaysian defense minister, said conditions in the southern corridor were challenging.

The area where the objects were identified by the Australian authorities is marked by strong currents and rough seas, and the ocean depth varies between 1,150 meters (3,770 feet) and 7,000 meters (23,000 feet). In addition, Hishammuddin said a low-level warning had been declared for Tropical Cyclone Gillian, although that was north of Australia and closer to Indonesia.

The missing plane, which had been bound for Beijing, carried 153 Chinese passengers. In the Chinese capital on Saturday, relatives of the passengers rose up in anger at the end of a brief meeting with Malaysia Airlines and Malaysian government officials.

"You can't leave here! We want to know what the reality is!" they shouted in frustration over what they saw as officials' refusal to answer questions. The relatives gave reporters a statement saying they believe they have been "strung along, kept in the dark and lied to by the Malaysian government."

Malaysian authorities have not ruled out any possible explanation for what happened to the jet, but have said the evidence so far suggests it was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca, with its communications systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next.

Police are considering the possibilities of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board.

Malaysia asked the U.S. for undersea surveillance equipment to help in the search, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel promised to assess the availability of the technology and its usefulness in the search, Kirby said. The Pentagon says it has spent $2.5 million to operate ships and aircraft in the search and has budgeted another $1.5 million for the efforts.


Griffith reported from Perth, Australia. Associated Press writers Todd Pitman and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Kristen Gelineau in Sydney and Didi Tang and Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Sparky5229 March 22 2014 at 2:52 PM

Enough B S on this plane already ,no one knows where it is =period

Flag Reply +1 rate up
grozbeek March 22 2014 at 11:51 PM

Have Your Say...Malaysia asked the U.S. for undersea surveillance equipment to help in the search, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel promised to assess the availability of the technology and its usefulness in the search, Kirby said. The Pentagon says it has spent $2.5 million to operate ships and aircraft in the search and has budgeted another $1.5 million for the efforts.

Kudos to the US. Hate sound callus, but only 4 Americans were on this flight. Are
we really getting anywhere with this? How many impoverished Americans could
we help with 4 million dollars. I'm probably going to catch hell for this

Flag Reply +9 rate up
4 replies
mema6 March 22 2014 at 10:28 AM

It's a blessing to our world to see countries working together, as best as each can, for the good of an endeavor. If only we had more of it our world might be a better place.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
josephine1942 mema6 March 22 2014 at 11:21 AM

It is a blessing. So true

Flag Reply 0 rate up
rickstaino March 22 2014 at 10:27 AM

So I have a question for these countries that are reporting satelitte images of "objects", but for "some" reason, they do not report it for days, realistically when these "objects" may have moved hundreds of miles since the country made the initial report.

So the countries see these objects in real time via their satellites.


Flag Reply +8 rate up
4 replies
tortugatommie March 22 2014 at 10:27 AM

The sats. can and do take pictures that enable the analyist
to read the label on a pack of cigarettes. I do not have a clue
as to what happened to the airliner. I do know from these pics.
that somebody is deliberately misleading people. Why? What has
really happened? This is starting to stink.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
bryanmerrittper2 March 22 2014 at 10:26 AM

That's a mighty big ocean they might never find it if what they see is even a piece of the plane. There is a lot of junk floating around out there it could be anything. Also the pilot and co pilot were devout Muslims I think they may have stolen the plane and taken it to Pakistan for the Taliban.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
retnfl2 March 22 2014 at 11:57 PM

I'd bet that we, the USA, has a sub down there somewhere.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
derralh retnfl2 March 23 2014 at 12:12 AM

I'll bet china had the satellite watching the American sub .

Flag Reply +1 rate up
tony retnfl2 March 23 2014 at 12:18 AM

There are 3 us ohio class subs in the area

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ALBHB3 March 22 2014 at 10:26 AM

can someone tell me why I can pull up bing google and mapquest maps get a birdseye view of any home yet all they can get are these crap images

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
nuttberry ALBHB3 March 22 2014 at 10:34 AM

Because this satellite wasn't specifically being used to take pictures of something, unlike the bing, google and mapquest satellites are. Also. this satellite was probably higher than the ones used to photo your house.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
golfet33 March 22 2014 at 8:19 PM

I just love media headlines. Another article said "AFTER TWO WEEKS MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS" You think?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
loghomeguy March 22 2014 at 10:24 AM

It might be a good idea to POST THE SATELLITE PHOTO IN YOUR ARTICLE,,,,,,,lame

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
ae12wrangell loghomeguy March 22 2014 at 11:51 AM

True, but THAT makes too much sense.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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