More planes were joining the search Sunday of a remote patch of the southern Indian Ocean in hopes of finding answers to the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, after China released a satellite image showing a large object floating in the search zone.
The desolate area in the Indian Ocean is about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, Australia, where three days of searching for similar images from another satellite that emerged earlier in the week have produced no results.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordination the operation from the country’s western coast, said it refined the search based on the latest clue from the Chinese satellite showing an object that appeared to be 22 meters (72 feet) by 13 meters (43 feet). It said that the object’s position also fell within Saturday’s search area but it had not been sighted.
Sunday’s search involving eight aircraft has been split into two areas within the same proximity covering 59,000 square kilometers (22,800 square miles). These areas have been determined by drift modelling, the AMSA said.
Despite the frustrating lack of answers, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was upbeat.
“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,” Abbott told reporters in Papua New Guinea.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put a message on his Twitter account Sunday asking those in churches around the country to offer a “prayer please” for the passengers and crew on Fight 370.
More than 300 Malaysian cycling enthusiasts rode their bikes to the Kuala Lumpur airport to remember the people onboard the jet. The cyclists decorated the bikes with small Malaysian flags and stickers that read “Pray for MH370.”
Six planes left a base near Perth on the four-hour journey to the search region, the safety authority said. Two more will fly out later. The HMAS Success, an Australian navy supply ship, is also taking part.
A cold front was forecast to move through the region later Sunday, which could bring clouds and wind, further hampering efforts to locate the plane.
The latest satellite image is another clue in the baffling search for Flight 370, which dropped off air traffic control screens March 8 over the Gulf of continued…