BEIJING: China said its satellites have detected three large floating objects in a suspected crash site near where a missing Malaysian jet lost contact, the latest twist in a hunt which entered its sixth day on Thursday.
China’s state science and technology administration said late Wednesday that a Chinese satellite had seen the objects in a “suspected crash sea area” in the South China Sea on March 9, and that the images were being analyzed.
The search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 now encompasses nearly 27,000 nautical miles (over 90,000 square kilometers) – roughly the size of Portugal – and involves the navies and air forces of multiple nations.
The hunt originally focused on an area off Vietnam’s South China Sea coast, where the Boeing 777 last made contact Saturday on a journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
But Malaysian authorities later expanded it to the Andaman Sea, north of Indonesia, hundreds of miles away.
The suspected objects detected by the Chinese satellite were found at 105.63 degrees longitude East and 6.7 degrees latitude North, the administration said on its website.
It added that they were spread across an area with a radius of 20 kilometers (12 miles), in sizes that appeared to be 13 x 18 meters, 14 x 19 meters and 24 x 22 meters. Previous sighting of possible debris have proved not to be from the jet.
It was not clear whether or when the images had been shared with Malaysian officials coordinating the ever-shifting search effort. Officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday morning.
United States authorities said on Wednesday that their spy satellites had detected no sign of a mid-air explosion when a Malaysian airliner lost contact with air traffic controllers.
On Wednesday, Malaysia denied that the hunt for the aircraft was mired in confusion after a series of false alarms, rumours and contradictory statements.
Malaysian air force chief General Rodzali Daud attempted to explain why the search zone had been expanded, telling a press conference that military radar detected an unidentified object early Saturday north of the Malacca Strait off Malaysia’s west coast.He said that the reading, taken less than an hour after the plane lost contact over the South China Sea, was still being investigated and they were not able to confirm it was MH370.