Malaysian plane search widens on new images of 'debris'
Flight officer Rayan Gharazeddine, on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, scans for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean on March 22, 2014 - by Rob Griffith
Coordinating the hunt in the vast southern Indian Ocean, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said overnight "further attempts will be made to establish whether the objects sighted are related to MH370," on Sunday.
A grainy March 18 photo released by China's State Administration of Science Technology and Industry showed an object measuring 22.5 metres by 13 metres (74 by 43 feet) in the southern Indian Ocean.
The location was just 120 kilometres (75 miles) distant from where March 16 satellite images -- released by Australia on Thursday -- had detected two pieces of possible wreckage in the remote ocean about 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth.
"AMSA has plotted the position and it falls within Saturday's search area," the statement said.
"The object was not sighted on Saturday. AMSA will take this information into account in tomorrow's (Sunday's) search plans.
The Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Success arrived late Saturday in the search area where two merchant ships were also taking part in the effort that turned up sightings of other objects during good weather conditions on Saturday.
"A civil aircraft... reported sighting a number of small objects with the naked eye, including a wooden pallet, within a radius of five kilometres," AMSA said.
"A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion aircraft with specialist electro-optic observation equipment was diverted to the location, arriving after the first aircraft left but only reported sighting clumps of seaweed."
The Orion dropped a marker buoy to track the movement of the material and a merchant ship in the 36,000-square-kilometre area was tasked with relocating and seeking to identify the material.
Chinese and British naval ships are also steaming to join the search and the new image offered welcome support for the decision to deploy so many resources without confirmation that the objects are pieces of wreckage.
Australian media have reported that two Chinese aircraft and a Japanese plane were also due to take part in the coming days.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss vowed Saturday there would be no let up in the search.
The operation has seen already 15 sorties flown and more than 150 hours of air time logged, AMSA said.
Six planes, including four Orion anti-submarine aircraft packed with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, scoured the area for a third straight day Saturday.
MH370, carrying 239 people, dropped off civilian radar on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and two weeks later Malaysian investigators still believe it was "deliberately diverted" by someone on board.
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