Chinese icebreaker shifts north to search for missing jet, more objects spotted
                 English.news.cn | 2014-03-29 00:15:50 | Editor: Mu Xuequan
 • Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, headed north on Friday to continue search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
 • Australian authorities said search planes spotted several objects of various colors in a new search area.
 • The search has entered the third week but Flight MH370's whereabouts remains unknown.

BEIJING, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, headed north on Friday to continue search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as Australian authorities said search planes spotted several objects of various colors in a new search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

The Chinese icebreaker is scheduled to arrive in the center of the new search area early Sunday and meet Chinese Maritime Safety Administration patrol ship Haixun 01 there, said Liu Shunlin, commander in chief of Xue Long's search efforts.

During its voyage to the waters, crew and researchers aboard Xue Long will also enhance observation, Liu said.

The new area of 319,000 square km, is about four times bigger than the previous search area and lies 1,100 km to its northeast, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The search has entered the third week but Flight MH370's whereabouts remains unknown. Australian search and rescue authorities announced Friday that they had relocated the search area after receiving its most credible lead to date.

A Xinhua reporter aboard Xue Long found Friday that the weather in the southern Indian Ocean had improved.

Although the visibility reached 10 to 15 km and the wind weakened, there was a heavy swell of 3.5 to 4.5 meters, which made the ship swing heavily.

On the icebreaker, an echo sounder indicating the depth of water showed the maximum depth was 5,701 meters.

Researchers modified their equipment, such as hooks, fishing nets and buoys, to salvage floating objects. They also drew a picture of the flow field of surface waters for search references.

"The marine environment is very harsh. The pressure of the water will grow by 0.1 megapascal, if the depth of the water increases by 10 meters," said Jiao Yutian, head of the Chinese research team.

"A floating wood block will sink when the water depth reaches 1,000 meters and an iron box will be flattened when it submerges to thousands of meters deep," he added.

Five aircraft spotted several objects of various colors during Friday's search for the missing plane, Australian maritime authorities said.

"The objects cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships," said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in the latest update.

Search activities have now concluded on Friday with a total of 256,000 square km searched.

AMSA has asked Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 to relocate the objects on Saturday.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion reported sighting a number of objects white or light in colour and a fishing buoy on Friday.

A Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion relocated the objects detected by the New Zealand plane and reported that it had seen two blue/grey rectangular objects floating in the ocean.

A second RAAF P3 Orion spotted various objects of various colors in a separate part of the search area about 546 km away, said AMSA.

A total of 10 planes were tasked by AMSA in Friday's search and all have now departed for the search area.

Ten aircraft had been tasked for Friday's search and six ships were relocating to the new search area including HMAS Success and five Chinese ships.

The Malaysian government has ordered the country's Attorney General to look into the legal implications of the ill-fated Flight MH370, including possible compensation claims, a Malaysian official said in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

Malaysia's cabinet decided Friday to alert the Attorney General's department to consider all the legal repercussions that could be faced by the government or Malaysia Airlines.

Malaysia Airlines is separately consulting lawyers to obtain legal advice on how to proceed with the potential financial compensation that could be demanded from the families of the 239 people aboard the Boeing 777.

"We are obviously talking to various legal parties and also the families on this. So far what we have been requested, especially for the family members, is to identify the evidence affirmatively," Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told a media briefing.

Yahya also insisted that the pilot and co-pilot were scheduled to fly together as part of a roster while psychological evaluations are done before co-pilots and pilots are recruited and regularly afterward.

The Malaysian government has defended itself in face of criticisms over the investigations, which have now dragged on for three weeks.

"No matter what has been thrown and labeled at us, history will judge us as a country that has been very responsible. We have corroborated any evidence we have received," said Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hihammuddin Hussein.

"We have made sure that no stones are unturned, notwithstanding lots of speculations in the early stages of the Malacca Straits or in the social media, we have not distracted from our main focus, which is to identify the plane," Hihammuddin said.

Related:

Chinese vessel on site to relocate objects spotted in MH370 search

ABOARD HAIXUN 01, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 reached its target area late Friday night to relocate objects spotted earlier in the day by airborne searchers for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Due to poor visibility at night, no major sightings were reported as of 1:00 a.m. local time Saturday (1700 GMT of Friday) but a few light-colored, palm-size floating objects, according to a Xinhua correspondent aboard the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration ship. Full story

AMSA reports relocation of objects in MH370 search

CANBERRA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- An Australian aircraft relocated the objects a plane from New Zealand detected earlier in the massive search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said Friday.

It is the first confirmed relocation in the intensive multinational hunt for the ill-fated Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared early March 8 while carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Full story

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