An Indonesian National Search and Rescue agent scans the sea aboard a boat on patrol in the Straits of Malacca on March 12 during the continued search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The search for the missing jet swung northwest towards the Andaman Sea on March 12, far from its intended flight path, exposing Malaysia to mounting criticism that its response has been clumsy.
The hunt for the missing Malaysian aircraft continues with clues having been found from the Gulf of Thailand to the Straits of Malacca.
The Malaysia Airlines aircraft carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared on March 8 after air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane.
China's state Science and Technology Administration said March 12 that a Chinese satellite had seen three large "floating objects" in a "suspected crash sea area" on the morning of March 9, adding that the images were being analyzed.
The suspected objects were found at 105.63 degrees longitude East and 6.7 degrees latitude North, the administration said on its website. The location is off the coast of southern Vietnam in the East Sea (otherwise known as the South China Sea), southeast of Ca Mau Province.
The objects were spread across an area with a radius of 20 kilometers (12 miles), and their sizes appeared to be 13 x 18 meters, 14 x 19 meters and 24 x 22 meters.
Vietnam is maintaining its search for the missing aircraft, with the search area extending both to the east of the plane’s last-known location and to remote areas on the mainland, deputy chief of the General Staff of Vietnam People’s Army, Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan said on March 12.
On the same day, Vietnam’s Center for Control and Exploitation of Small Satellites received a collection of 13 photos captured from the VNRedsat-1 satellite near Tho Chu Island.
After initial analysis, experts have so far found no suspect signals or strange objects that shed light on the mystery.
Meanwhile, Malaysia denied that the hunt for the missing jet was in disarray after the search veered far from the plane's planned route and Chinese authorities said that conflicting reports about its course were "pretty chaotic."
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, rumors and contradictory statements, AFP quoted Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein as saying on March 12.
The hunt for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (MH370) now encompasses nearly 27,000 nautical miles (over 90,000 square kilometers) and involves the navies and air forces of multiple nations.
The search focus had been on an area off Vietnam's southeastern coastline, where the Boeing 777 last made contact March 8 on its journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
But Malaysian authorities said they were expanding their search to the Andaman Sea, north of Indonesia, hundreds of miles 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 mapping 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 Wednesday 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 Saturday (March 8) north of the Straits of Malacca, off the western coast of Malaysia.
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 whether it was MH370 or not.
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