Latest news of a Chinese satellite identifying another object in the Indian Ocean has given new impetus to the search for the missing flight MH370 as it enters the third week.
Two Chinese military planes have arrived in Perth in Australia to join international search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.Crews are scouring vast areas of the southern Indian Ocean for a fourth day.Satellite images of floating objects and the sighting of a wooden pallet on Saturday have raised hopes that the airliner may be in the area.
As more aircraft and ships headed to join an international search operation scouring some of the remotest seas on Earth, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said yesterday the latest satellite sighting was of an object measuring about 22.5m long and 13m wide.
Dr John Blaxland was quoted by Chinese news agency Xinhua as saying if the measurements were correct, they were consistent with a wing of a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported today.
Asked if the newly spotted object would be similar to the ones sighted in an earlier satellite image, Blaxland, a senior fellow from the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said they do not appear to be the same.
“It’s similar shaped, but if the measurements (are correct), then this is slightly wider,” he said.
The high-definition earth observation satellite Gaofen-1 spotted the object about midnight on March 18, according to China’s State Administration of Science Technology and Industry for National Defence, the SMH said.
The object was in the area of the southern corridor – one of two possible routes that investigators said they think flight MH370 took.The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), however, appeared to downplay the latest finding, stating it had searched the area earlier yesterday and sighted no such debris, reported SMH.
But it said further attempts would be made when the search resumed today to establish whether the objects spotted are related to the missing MH370.
It said China provided the satellite image to Australia on Saturday night.
“AMSA has plotted the position and it falls within Saturday’s search area. The object was not sighted on Saturday,” the statement continued.
Despite that, the search team would take the information into account when plotting today’s search plans, reported SMH.”A merchant ship in the area has been tasked to relocate and seek to identify the material,” AMSA said.
Australia, which is coordinating the rescue, has cautioned that the objects in the satellite image might be a lost shipping container or other debris, and may have sunk since the picture was taken.”Even though this is not a definite lead, it is probably more solid than any other lead around the world and that is why so much effort and interest is being put into this search,” Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss had told reporters before latest Chinese image was reported.
The search has been in two distinct corridors – one stretching to the north-west of the last known location in the Malacca Straits and one to the south-west.The locations were based on a data “ping” apparently sent to a satellite from the missing plane hours after it vanished from other indicators.
However, on Saturday, Mr Hussein said that China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma) and several other nations had informed Malaysia that analysis of their radar records had revealed no evidence of flight MH370 crossing their airspace.
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(Article Courtesy: various sources)