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French satellites spot possible debris from MH370, more aircraft to join search

English.news.cn   2014-03-24 00:26:30

KUALA LUMPUR/CANBERRA, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia received new satellite images from French authorities showing possible debris from missing jetliner MH370, the Malaysian Transport Ministry said Sunday.

The French satellite imagery was released one day after China said its satellite spotted a 22-meter-long and 13-meter-wide floating object in southern Indian Ocean, about 120 km southwest of the objects Australia announced Thursday.

All these objects remain to be located and confirmed whether they are related to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which mysteriously disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of March 8 with 239 people on board.

Australian, New Zealand and U.S. military and civil aircraft have searched the relevant area approximately 2,500 km southwest of the Australian port city of Perth for four days, but failed to find any suspicious objects shown on the satellite imagery.

On Sunday afternoon, two Japanese P3 Orion military aircraft, which departed from Subang airport in Malaysia, arrived in the Pearce airbase near Perth to assist the search for the missing plane.

Two Indian aircraft also left Subang airport to join the search and rescue operation in the northern part of the southern corridor, a search area stretching from Indonesia deep into the southern Indian Ocean, the Malaysian Transport Ministry said in a statement.

Due to bad weather caused by tropical cyclone Gillian, a number of other sorties from Subang airport to the southern corridor were canceled, said the statement.

In Canberra, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and senior maritime rescue officials reiterated that they will keep searching the southern Indian Ocean as long as there is hope.

"We're hopeful obviously for breakthroughs but these kinds of searches can take a very long time especially when they're in remote locations as is the case in this instance," Truss said in a televised press conference at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

"We hope that soon there'll be more information available that might help to provide some kind of closure or at least an understanding of what's happened," he added.

"The search will continue as long as there's hope, and I hope that we'll find a time soon when we're able to conclusively say once and for all that we are close to finding where this plane may now be located," he said.

John Young, AMSA general manager of emergency response, said searchers were hoping Sunday to find again the objects spotted by airborne observers the day before so they could be recovered and to find the objects identified in U.S. and Chinese satellite photos.

"Today is really a visual search again and visual searches take some time. They can be difficult," Young said at the press conference.

Also on Sunday, a Chinese military official said two Chinese Air Force Ilyushin IL-76 planes will head toward the search area early Monday and provide relevant information for Chinese naval search vessels.

The two planes will fly from RAAF Base Pearce to Perth and, after refuelling, will leave for the sea area in the southern Indian Ocean where objects possibly related to MH370 were spotted by satellites, Commander Liu Dianjun said.

Liu said the Chinese aircraft will make a roughly eight-hour round-trip flight during their first search mission, with the furthest point 2,700 km away from Perth.

Wang Quansheng, captain of one of the two IL-76 planes, said his crew members are preparing the plane to take more fuel so that it can search a wider area for a longer time.

Meanwhile, Chinese icebreaker Xuelong is expected to arrive Tuesday at the search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

The long-serving Antarctic research vessel is still some 1,046 km away from the search area, and it will take the icebreaker another 40 hours to get there.

Xu Ting, deputy director of the Xuelong's search operations, said all the crew members have been doing their best to look for any possible traces of the missing plane.

"Though we are still hundreds of miles away from the targeted waters, we are combat-ready for an all-out search mission," he added.

The helicopter-carrying Xuelong, or "Snow Dragon," left the Australian port of Fremantle for the southern Indian Ocean on Friday after it received an order to join the hunt.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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