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Indonesian Air Force officers examine a map of the Malacca Strait during a briefing following a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Malaysia asked India to join the expanding search for the missing jetliner near the Andaman Sea, far to the northwest of its last reported position and a further sign Wednesday that authorities have no idea where the plane might be more than four days after it vanished. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
Report: Chinese site may show plane debris images
First Published Mar 12 2014 07:30 am • Last Updated Mar 12 2014 04:33 pm

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia • China’s official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday that a government website has satellite images of suspected debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane off the southern tip of Vietnam.

The report Wednesday says the images from around 11 a.m. on March 9 appear to show "three suspected floating objects" of varying sizes.

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The report includes coordinates of a location in the sea off the southern tip of Vietnam and east of Malaysia, which apparently was part of the original search area after the plane disappeared early Saturday. The images were posted on a national defense technology website.

The Xinhua report says the largest of the suspected pieces of debris measures about 24 meters (79 feet) by 22 meters (72 feet).

The search for the missing plane, which left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, has encompassed 35,800 square miles (92,600 square kilometers) of Southeast Asia and on Wednesday expanded toward India.

Two-thirds of the passengers on the flight were Chinese, and the Chinese government has put increasing pressure on Malaysian officials to find solve the mystery of the plane’s disappearance.

Also, Wednesday, it was revealed that the last message from the cockpit of the missing flight was routine. "All right, good night," was the signoff transmitted to air traffic controllers five days ago.

Then the Boeing 777 vanished as it cruised over the South China Sea toward Vietnam, and nothing has been seen or heard of the jetliner since.

Those final words were picked up by controllers and relayed Wednesday in Beijing to anguished relatives of some of the 239 people aboard Flight MH370.

The new Chinese reports of the satellite images came after several days of sometimes confusing and conflicting statements from Malaysian officials.


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Earlier Wednesday, the Malaysian military officially disclosed why it was searching on both sides of country: A review of military radar records showed what might have been the plane turning back and crossing westward into the Strait of Malacca.

That would conflict with the latest images on the Chinese website.

For now, authorities said the international search effort would stay focused on the South China Sea and the strait leading toward the Andaman Sea.

Chinese impatience has grown.

"There’s too much information and confusion right now. It is very hard for us to decide whether a given piece of information is accurate," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing. "We will not give it up as long as there’s still a shred of hope."

"We have nothing to hide," said Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. "There is only confusion if you want to see confusion."

Flight MH370 disappeared from civilian radar screens at 1:30 a.m. Saturday at an altitude of about 35,000 feet above the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and southern Vietnam. It sent no distress signals or any indication it was experiencing problems.

The Malaysian government said it had asked India to join in the search near the Andaman Sea, suggesting the jetliner might have reached those waters after crossing into the Strait of Malacca, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) from the flight’s last-known coordinates.

Malaysian officials met in Beijing with several hundred Chinese relatives of passengers to explain the search and investigation, and to relay the last transmission that Malaysian air traffic controllers received before the plane entered Vietnamese airspace, according to a participant in the meeting.

Aviation officials in Vietnam said they never heard from the plane.

Its sudden disappearance led to initial speculation of a catastrophic incident that caused it to disintegrate. Another possibility is that it continued to fly despite a failure of its electrical systems, which could have knocked out communications, including transponders that enable the plane to be identified by commercial radar.

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