Published On: Sun, Mar 23rd, 2014

Malaysia Flight MH370: China Jets Boost Indian Ocean Hunt

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.

China jets boost Indian Ocean hunt

Two sets of satellite images showing floating objects in the area have raised hopes that the jet may be there.

Most of the 239 people on board were Chinese. Beijing has criticised Malaysia’s handling of the search for the plane, now missing for 15 days.

The two Chinese aircraft have been flown in from Malaysia, where they were helping with the search further north.

Six other planes are already at the Perth base, and scoured an area of the Indian Ocean the size of Denmark on Saturday.

But the mission found no debris.

Ships supporting the search are already in the area, or are on their way.

The Australian navy’s HMAS Success, which is large enough to recover any debris if needed, has arrived in the search area.

Malaysian officials suspect the plane, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was deliberately taken off course.

The Boeing-777 disappeared on 8 March; two thirds of the passengers were Chinese.

China on Saturday released a satellite image showing an object floating in the southern Indian Ocean near to the area already being searched, some 2,500 km (1,550 miles) south-west of Perth.

The grainy image was released by China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

The find was announced by Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein amid a routine briefing in Kuala Lumpur.

The Xinhua state news agency said the latest satellite image was taken at about 04:00 GMT on 18 March and showed objects about 120km “south by west” from the first site.

Other satellite images of possible aircraft debris in a nearby area were released earlier in the week.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the sightings were encouraging signs.

“Obviously we have now had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope – no more than hope, no more than hope – that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft,” he said.

After operations ended for the day on Saturday, Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority said an aircraft had reported sighting a number of small objects with the naked eye within a radius of five kilometres, including a wooden pallet.

However the floating object seen in the new satellite image was not spotted.

At his briefing, Acting Transport Minister Hussein also said investigations of the plane’s cargo manifest did “not show any link to anything that may have contribution to the plane’s disappearance”.

He also referred to the angry scenes as Malaysian officials briefed Chinese relatives in Beijing.

“Government of Malaysia, tell us the truth – give us back our loved ones,” relatives shouted at the Lido Hotel.

Mr Hussein admitted the briefing had been “tense” and an investigation was under way to try to improve the situation.

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.