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Planes, vessels continue search as more possible MH370 objects spotted

English.news.cn   2014-03-26 23:21:53

BEIJING, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Aircraft and vessels reached the southern Indian Ocean to continue the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Wednesday, as Malaysia announced a further 122 objects that might be plane debris had been identified in satellite imagery.

Chinese aircraft and vessels arrived about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km) west of Perth Wednesday to continue the search mission.

A Chinese IL-76 aircraft, the first plane taking off from Perth International Airport on Wednesday, reached its target area in the morning.

As the route was covered by thick clouds and weather conditions in the target area were unclear while approaching, the plane's captain, Wang Quansheng, sought a meterological update from Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, which was already in the area, a Xinhua correspondent aboard the plane said.

The plane, hovering at about 300 meters above the sea, scoured about 7,000 square km before it returned to the Perth airport at 12:50 p.m. (GMT 0650).

The crew told Xinhua gales of 12 m/sec and 3 to 3.5 meter-high waves made spotting any floating objects from the air more difficult.

China has sent two IL-76 planes to Australia to join the search for missing Flight MH370. On Monday, one crew sighted two relatively big floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean. However, the mission was suspended Tuesday due to bad weather conditions and resumed Wednesday.

A Chinese naval flotilla of supply ship Qiandaohu, missile destroyer Haikou and amphibious transport dock Kunlunshan, was searching the target area, an onboard Xinhua reporter said.

Another amphibious docking vessel, Jinggangshan, which had been previously sent to scour waters southwest of Sumatra, was sailing toward the new target area, and was expected to move into position Sunday.

If Wednesday's search found nothing suspicious, the flotilla would move into the next phase, in which the ships would comb the area back and forth five times to ensure no clue had been overlooked.

Meanwhile, a Chinese merchant ship had reached waters where French satellites had detected some suspicious items.

In addition, more Chinese military and civilian vessels were en route to the southern Indian Ocean to join the search mission.

Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a press briefing that, based on the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA)'s analysis of the latest satellite images taken Sunday and provided on Tuesday by France-based Airbus Defense and Space, 122 potential objects were identified in an area of some 400 square km.

Some objects were one meter in length, while others were as long as 23 meters, the minister said, adding some items appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials.

The newly identified objects were located approximately 2,557 km from Perth, he said.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said three objects were spotted in Wednesday's search of MH370 but none could be relocated on further passes, nor were they distinctive of the missing jetliner.

Civilian aircraft sighted two rope-shaped objects while a P-3 Orion from New Zealand spotted a blue one, the AMSA said via Twitter.

Further passes failed to locate the items again and none of the finds were distinctive of the ill-fated Boeing 777 aircraft, according to the AMSA.

RAAF Flight Officer Peter Moore has told gathered media at Pearce Airbase of another day of frustration on the high seas, failing to confirm any of the previous leads - including the 122 reported by Malaysian authorities.

Moore said the notoriously fickle conditions of the deep Southern Ocean, known in Australia as the "Roaring Forties", some 2,500 kilometers off the West Australian coastline, had improved markedly and provided a clear day of high-visibility for his P-3 Orion sortie.

Moore reported several possible visual contacts were investigated and turned out to be "marine mammals", such as dolphins and whales.

No military craft in the search area were able to confirm the sightings reported by AMSA.

Hishammuddin also said Wednesday he and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had provided Chinese special envoy Zhang Yesui with the latest information from British company Inmarsat.

Hishammuddin said an international working group had been established on the basis of the new information provided by Inmarsat. The group involves Inmarsat, AAIB, the Chinese CAAC and AAID, NTSB, FAA, Boeing and Rolls Royce as well as Malaysian authorities.

Hishammuddin reiterated that search operations in the northern corridor and in the northern part of the southern corridor had been called off, and diplomatic notes to all relevant countries to formally inform them of this change had been sent by Malaysia.

Razak announced Monday evening that flight MH370, which vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

Najib said Tuesday his government would continue searching for the missing Malaysian jetliner.

The search could take weeks or even months until fragments, debris or objects related to MH370 were found, which would confirm the flight ended in southern Indian Ocean, Najib told the Malaysian Parliament.

Chinese special envoy Zhang on Wednesday stressed the urgency of continuing to search with full force.

The search remained the top priority and must carry on unremittingly, Zhang, who is a Chinese vice foreign minister, said when meeting Najib.

China, the envoy added, hoped the Malaysian side would strengthen information sharing with China and, in a comprehensive and accurate manner, provide Beijing with the information and evidence that led Malaysia to the conclusion the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian side should spare no efforts in coordinating with relevant countries to continue the search and comfort the family members of the passengers onboard the plane, Zhang said.

Najib welcomed China's support and assistance in dealing with the incident.

He said Malaysia would do its best to provide timely and accurate information, and concentrate its efforts on searching.

He also promised all-out efforts in comforting the family members of those aboard the missing jetliner.

On the same day, Zhang also met with Hishammuddin as well as senior executives of the airline.

Related:

Chinese special envoy urges unremitting efforts in MH370 search

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Chinese special envoy Zhang Yesui on Wednesday stressed the urgency of continuing to search with full force for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Search remained the top priority and must carry on unremittingly, Zhang, who is a Chinese vice foreign minister, said during a meeting here with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.   Full story

U.S., UK defense chiefs say nothing can be ruled out yet on missing Malaysian jet

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his visiting British counterpart Philip Hammond said on Wednesday they can not rule out anything -- including terrorism -- yet on what happened to the missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner.

The two defense leaders spoke at a joint news conference at Pentagon on Wednesday following their meeting focused on the Ukraine crisis. Asked if an act of terrorism or political violence can be ruled out on the missing flight, Hagel said nothing can be ruled out yet until more information emerges.   Full story

Editor: Liu Dan
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