Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

Satellite clues to missing Malaysian jet mystery still elusive: Australian officials

A monorail passenger train passes by a giant electronic screen displaying messages for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, in Kuala Lumpur. (AP) A monorail passenger train passes by a giant electronic screen displaying messages for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, in Kuala Lumpur. (AP)
Associated Press | Perth | Posted: March 22, 2014 2:18 pm | Updated: March 22, 2014 2:24 pm

As planes spent a third day hunting for two large objects spotted by satellite in the southern Indian Ocean, Australian officials on Saturday said they were far from giving up on what remains the strongest lead in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Two military planes from China arrived in Perth to help search a remote stretch of ocean about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) to the southwest. Australian, New Zealand and U.S. planes were already involved, two Japanese planes will arrive Sunday, and ships were in the area or on their way.

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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on an official visit to Papua New Guinea, said weather hampered the search earlier but conditions were improving.

“There are aircraft and vessels from other nations that are joining this particular search because tenuous though it inevitably is, this is nevertheless the first credible evidence of anything that has happened to Flight MH370,” Abbott said.

A satellite spotted two large objects in the area earlier this week, raising hopes of finding the Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.

MH370: Extraordinary riddle of lost jet now 2 weeks old

One of the objects was 24 meters (almost 80 feet) in length and the other was 5 meters (15 feet). The objects could be unrelated to the plane; one possibility is that they fell off one of the cargo vessels that travel in the area.

Warren Truss, Australia’s acting prime minister while Abbott is traveling abroad, said a complete search could take a long time.

“It is a very remote area, but we intend to continue the search until we’re absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile — and that day is not in sight,” he said.

“If there’s something there to be found, I’m confident that this search effort will locate it,” Truss said from the base near Perth that is serving as a staging area for search aircraft.

Aircraft involved in the search include two ultra-long-range commercial jets and four P3 Orions, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

Because the search area is a four-hour flight from land, the Orions can search for only about two hours before they must fly back. The commercial jets can stay for five hours before heading back to the base.

Two merchant ships were in the area, and the HMAS Success, a navy supply ship, was due to arrive late Saturday afternoon.

Australian maritime officials also were checking for updated satellite imagery. The satellite images that show the objects were taken March 16, but the search in continued…

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