A new object was spotted by Chinese satellites in the southern Indian Ocean that could be debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner, as the search for the plane entered its third week today.
"The object is 22.5 meters long and 13 meters wide, (74 feet by 43 feet)," Malaysian Defence and Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, adding China is sending ships to verify.
China later said the satellite images showing the "floating object" are dated around noon Tuesday (March 18).
The object was spotted about 120 km southwest from a location where possible debris was sighted by another satellite on March 16 in the remote ocean off western Australia.
"Captured by the high-definition earth observation satellite "Gaofen-1" at around 12 am on March 18, the imagery spotted the object at 44 degrees, 57 minutes south latitude, and 90 degrees, 13 minutes east longitude, in the southern Indian Ocean," China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said.
"The location of the suspicious object is along the southern corridor missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 might have taken and about 120 km south by west from the location of a suspicious object Australia found before," state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Malaysia Airlines Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 with 239 people on board, including five Indians and one Indo-Canadian, disappeared from radar screen on March 8, an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
This is the second imagery provided by Chinese satellites in search of the plane. Earlier, Satellite pictures of some objects floating in the South China Sea were proved wrong as the debris could not be located.
Meanwhile, two objects located by Australian satellites floating in the Indian Ocean, nearly 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth, could not be located despite intense aerial search for three days. The Australian officials believe they could have been sunk.
At least six search flights were involved in the search operations, including two private jets. Two Australian planes returned without spotting anything. Twenty six nations are involved in the search for flight MH370.
India, Cambodia, and Kazakhstan have confirmed that their radar data had shown no sighting of the plane in their airspaces.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China had informed Malaysia and Australia about the new object.
"China hopes that these data will be helpful for search and rescue efforts," Hong was quoted by state-run Xinhua news agency as saying.
It still needs further analysis and verification on whether the suspicious floating object is related to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Hong said adding that China's sea and air search-and-rescue forces are heading for the southern Indian Ocean.
"China will continue to cooperate closely with parties concerned and share information with them, so as to make an all-out effort to search and rescue work," he said.