A possible crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 has been found by a Chinese satellite looking into the disappearance of the jet.
CNN is reporting a Chinese Government agency said a satellite observed a “observed a suspected crash area at sea” offering hope in what has been a frustrating search for the Boeing 777.
China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense reportedly announced the discovery, including images of what it said were “three suspected floating objects and their sizes”.
This is not the first time suspected debris has been found, with other sightings including that of oil slicks leading to dead ends. The images of the debris, which were in the Strait of Malacca, were taken on March 9, a day after the plane went missing, but were not released publicly until yesterday.
This comes as a New Zealand oil rigger working on the South China Sea says he saw the missing Malaysia Airlines plane burning at high altitude around the time it disappeared.
Mike McKay was working on the Songa Mercur drilling platform on the southeastern shore of Vietnam when he saw the burning plane in one piece, he told Vietnamese and Malaysian authorities in an email.
“I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines plane come down,” he wrote.
Search in disarray
Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia would “never give up hope” of finding the plane’s 239 passengers and crew, dismissing allegations that efforts were mired in confusion after a series of false alarms, rumours and contradictory statements.
“I don’t think so. It’s far from it. It’s only confusion if you want it to be seen as confusion,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday, where military and civilian officials faced a grilling from a combative crowd of journalists.
“I think it’s not a matter of chaos. There are a lot of speculations (sic) that we have answered in the last few days,” he said.
The hunt for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 now encompasses nearly 27,000 nautical miles (over 90,000 square kilometres) – roughly the size of Portugal – and involves the navies and air forces of multiple nations.
The search focus had been on an area off Vietnam’s South China Sea coast, where it last made contact on Saturday on a journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
But Malaysian authorities said on Wednesday they were expanding it to the Andaman Sea, north of Indonesia, hundreds of kilometres away.
“So right now there is a lot of information, and it’s pretty chaotic, so up to this point we too have had difficulty confirming whether it is accurate or not,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said of accounts of the jet’s course. There were 153 Chinese nationals on the flight.
India’s coastguard joined the aerial search off the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Indian Air Force was put on standby.
Malaysian air force chief General Rodzali Daud attempted to explain why the search zone had been expanded, telling the press conference that military radar detected an unidentified object early on Saturday north of the Malacca Strait off Malaysia’s west coast.
He said that the reading, taken less than an hour after the plane lost contact over the South China Sea, was still being investigated and they were not able to confirm it was MH370.
The confusion has fuelled perceptions that Malaysian authorities are unable to handle a crisis on this scale, and infuriated relatives.
Analysts said there were burning questions over what information – if any – Malaysia has gleaned from both military and civilian radar, and the Boeing 777’s transponders, and over discounted reports it was later detected near Indonesia.
One new detail did emerge – the words of MH370’s final radio transmission.
Malaysia’s ambassador to China, Iskandar Sarudin, said one of the pilots said “alright, good night” as the flight switched from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace, according to Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, later confirmed to AFP that those were the last words from the cockpit.
Frustrations boiled over in Malaysia, with the country’s active social media and some press outlets turning from sympathy for the families of relatives to anger over the fruitless search.
“The mood among Malaysians now is moving from patience… to embarrassment and anger over discrepancies about passengers, offloaded baggage and concealed information about its last known position,” Malaysian Insider, a leading news portal, said in a commentary.