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China's satellite shows new floating object
Published:  Mar 22, 2014 6:00 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2014 11:26 AM

Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has revealed today that China's satellite has discovered a floating object which could be possible debris from the missing MH370 plane in the Indian Ocean.

The information was relayed to Hishammuddin during his daily briefing this evening when an official handed him a hand-written note. He said the object was 22.5m long and 13m wide.

Hishammuddin added that the information came from the Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Chinese government would make an announcement on the matter "in a couple of hours".

"(According to) the news that I just received, the Chinese ambassador received a satellite image of a floating object in the southern corridor and they will be sending ships to verify," he said, referring to the note.

The note says: "Sir, Ambassador Huang ( Huikang) informed they received satellite image of floating object in southern corridor. They will be sending ships to verify.

"The Beijing government will announce this in a couple of hours. The floating object: 22m long 30m wide."

However, soon after the press conference, the Transport Ministry issued a correction stating that the object was "22.5m by 13m".

"This information was received by phone during the press conference, and was initially misheard," it said.

According the Xin Hua news agency, the horse-shoe shaped object is in southern Indian Ocean, about 120km from another object discovered by a United States satellite which was revealed by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday.

The Chinese satellite image was taken on March 18 - four days ago - while the earlier image was dated March 16, which shows two objects, one measuring 24m in length .

It is not clear whether the satellite images are depicting the same object or two different objects.

Reuters reported China said an image of the object had been captured by its high-definition earth observation satellite 'Gaofen-1'.

The location was south by west of the possible debris announced by Australia on Thursday , said the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (Sastind).

Tropical cyclone Gillian

The Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpur said that the object was discovered today when the satellite images were analysed. It immediately relayed the information to both Malaysia and Australia.

However, as half a dozen nations set their sights in the Indian Ocean, their search efforts are being threatened by tropical cyclone Gillian which have began to develop near Christmas Island.

"A cyclone warning has been declared for tropical cyclone Gillian, which is located in the southern corridor. Very strong winds and rough seas are expected there today," said Hishammuddin.

"There are vessels heading in that direction and some of them may have to go through (the cyclone) to get to the (search) area."

The southern corridor extends from western Sumatra in Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean - a busy sea route with an average depth of nearly 4km.

Nothing found yet

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa), in a statement today, said that it will take into account the information on the finding of the object by China's satellite in its Sunday search plans.

It said China has provided the satellite image of the object to Australia this evening.

"Amsa has plotted the position and it falls within Saturday’s search area. The object was not sighted on Saturday," it said.

It said the search will resume tomorrow, and further attempts will be made to establish whether the objects sighted are related to MH370.

It said the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Success has arrived in the search area, and two merchant ships are also in the search area.

On today’s search activities, it said a civil aircraft tasked by Amsa reported sighting a number of small objects with the naked eye, including a wooden pallet, within a radius of five kilometres.

However, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion aircraft with specialist electro-optic observation equipment diverted to the location, reported sighting clumps of seaweed.

"The RNZAF Orion dropped a datum marker buoy to track the movement of the material. A merchant ship in the area has been tasked to relocate and seek to identify the material," it said.

Amsa said the search area experienced good weather conditions today with visibility of around 10km and moderate seas.

The Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, two chartered civil aircraft and two merchant ships supported Saturday’s search effort in a 36,000 sq km search area in the Australian Search and Rescue Region.