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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.

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chopperlcmc March 22 2014 at 10:30 AM

Here comes my opinion after all this time.... First, their has been so much control over warheads, missiles and nuclear bomb development that I believe the terrorists have had to get smarter. More educated. Make these materials smaller by staying out of site. That being said, here comes my connection to this aircraft. The plane was cleverly hijacked and again, cleverly, made untraceable and sent down a path that was predetermined to have low quality, if any radar coverage. It landed in a predetermined area with a runway and hanger. The passengers were removed and stowed for a later time when they would be needed. Now..... the plane and all its markings were removed. At this point the cache of small nuclear devices are being brought to this hanger, if they weren't already there. They get loaded on the aircraft. The target has been selected already. The air traffic is being monitored and the terrorists are determining what frequent flights fly over their target. They record the flight numbers, call signs or whatever they need to create an imposter. They apply New markings to the aircraft that match the flight they have chosen. The airline and other aircraft markings are applied. They somehow get the original flight cancelled but keep the flight info intact. Now they send up the most powerful explosive device known to man and fly it without fear or concern. They send it straight to the target. The passengers........ well...... possible future ransom potentials. If they were to request ransom before this plan went the way I described it would compromise the whole mission. Hope I am wrong - Rob

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2 replies
pacificpiers chopperlcmc March 22 2014 at 10:39 AM

Rob...forget your theory. Your grammar and spelling are horrible.

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1 reply
lovieperkins pacificpiers March 22 2014 at 10:58 AM

ROB DO NOT FORGET YOUR THEORY !!!!! I TRUST OUR DEFENSE FORCES HAVE BEEN PUT ON RED ALERT, BUT WITH THIS GROUP IN WASHINGTON DOUBT IT.... THE ISRAELI'S DO NOT FOOL WITH THIS POSSIBILITY, NEITHER SHOULD WE, AS NO DOUBT WE ARE THE TARGET.!

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leoganz chopperlcmc March 22 2014 at 11:13 AM

Terrorists have the cash to buy a used jetliner from anybody plus you don't need a giant plane to deliver a nuke.

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wizardsking March 22 2014 at 7:34 PM

Civil defense plane ( probably Malaysion would be my guess) There is a lot of deception going on here, we seem to be falling into a trap of lies deception, mis-information, mis-direction, and the failure to act upon Facts. This is already a Terrorist action, with the mere fact that transponders and other tracking devices have been manipulated and people are missing (or worse). The fact the pilot was using home-made flight similators is suspect to say the least. When you get off work, the last thing you want to do is work. I dont care what job you have, (Unless you are making some serious cash at home)
Taking into acount all the various agencies that pride themselves as being the best intellegence agencies, detectives, and experts in the field of Fact Finding. There has been little to nothing said as for intensive Detective footwork, by anyone.
The best sineros, theories, motives, and possible or probable likelyhoods have been posted by the people who have been posting here. The best questions being asked here, the best intellegent facts, stats, thoughts, and prayers, all posted here.
Even though some seem to have been far-fetched. They are better than that we have been told or not told by the authorities. I have seen at least one good thought in almost every post.
AOL has given us a chance to give thought, to vent, and to comment on what is.....yes speculation, however well-thoughout speculation to say the least.........TO ALL, Keep the thoughts and Therories coming in. You have been the ones with insight!

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2 replies
domingbfan wizardsking March 22 2014 at 7:39 PM

I agree if it seems funny it usually is.

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heinzoser wizardsking March 22 2014 at 9:23 PM

first, your spellings are awful.... but thats secondary. Don't worry, got your message.
Yet, quite contrary, indeed AOL has given a chance to millions
of people to air their thoughts, concerns, hints, and think outside the square,
but so far it appears that no agency has reacted - positive or negative - on those
options. May be its overwhelming, but so many people cant be so wrong !

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kokskamo March 22 2014 at 7:34 PM

I don't get it ? what is the prevailing details that they keep searching for the plane "over the sea " , what convinces these people that it was a suicide flight . I havent seen any information leading to that assumption , other than the plane dissapered over the south china sea . other than that why haven't they looked at the northern arc with as much intensity as the southern arc . or are our intelligence people that unimaginitive . things that make you want to go hmmmmmmm.......

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loe70 March 22 2014 at 10:52 PM

THe civilian pilot thought he saw a wooden palett... must be at least 150,000 of those in the ocean

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1 reply
Bobbie loe70 March 22 2014 at 11:07 PM

I know, that's like saying, " I saw a lot of water."

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ardiemon March 22 2014 at 7:34 PM

1.5 mil is probably more like 10.5 mil. NO LIMIT is more logical than any estimate.

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gratedad10 March 22 2014 at 7:33 PM

I hope they find something for the sake of the people waiting for word about missing relatives and friends. I don't think that an airliner would be carrying a wooden pallet. That could have come off of any ship in the area.

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1 reply
ThompsonDDH711 gratedad10 March 22 2014 at 7:43 PM

Some cargo could have been on the pallet.

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James M. Adams March 22 2014 at 7:31 PM

If they find it, will you goobers stop posting "We've got satellites that can pick up a golf ball, why can't we find this plane?"?

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mlwolfman March 22 2014 at 11:00 PM

I was a paratrooper and have flown a lot. But I hate to fly in todays' civilian hi tech planes. The pilots are not always flying the planes.. The computers are.

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3 replies
wakbpwm March 22 2014 at 7:29 PM

Look in Pakistan!

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ocarolina12 March 22 2014 at 11:31 PM

When are they going to start searching inland?

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2 replies
fun28031 ocarolina12 March 22 2014 at 11:36 PM

Its in the drink... They tried to turn back, overcome by cold ,depressure.. alttiude hold set and current course held. Ran out of juice... Evryone was already dead by the time it went down.

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1 reply
barryaclarke fun28031 March 23 2014 at 12:01 AM

I was thinking about something along these lines too. My first thoughs were that a distructive device went off disabling much of the aircraft, causing rapid depressurization, the passengers would be out like a light, and the aircraft might have been able to keep flying. The first thing the pilots would do is put on their oxygen mask, turn towards the nearest airport which would have put them on a westerly heading. If the crew was over whelmed or rendered unconscious after this, the plane would have flown until it ran out of fuel. But, when I found out that the turn was initiated before the last transmission, that theory went out the window. Now, what if the powers to be know something that they don’t want us to know such as "just maybe the turn indeed was made after the last transmission," then what? Sorry, but I have become a very distrusting person with believing much of anything that comes out of Washington or the press............

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Rob ocarolina12 March 23 2014 at 12:42 AM

good question, notice how quiet it's been on that front, you don't even here mention of a search taking path in the northern corridor.

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