BEIJING/PERTH, March 22 (IANS): A Chinese satellite image shows a 22-metre-long, 13-metre-wide object in the southern Indian Ocean, authorities said Saturday even as the multinational search operation for the missing Malaysian airliner continued.
Captured by the high-definition earth observation satellite Gaofen-1 March 18, the image showed 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 the missing Malaysia jet might have taken, and about 120 km south by west from the location of the suspicious objects an Australian satellite had found earlier, Xinhua reported citing SASTIND.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur March 8.
The Boeing 777-200ER was initially presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea. The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6.30 a.m. the same day. The 227 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.
Contact with the plane was lost along with its radar signal at 1.40 a.m. when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City.
The passenger manifesto named the five Indians as Vinod Koelkar, Chetana Koelkar, Swanand Koelkar, Chandrika Sharma and Kranti Shirsath.
Earlier Saturday, acting Prime Minister of Australia Warren Truss said that the suspicious objects spotted by the Australian satellite in the southern Indian Ocean remained "the best lead" in the massive search for the airliner.
The objects might have either drifted or sunk, but "if there's something to be found, I'm confident this search will find it", Truss told a press conference. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is currently on an official visit to Papua New Guinea.
The hunt will continue "indefinitely" until "we are absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile", he said. "That day is not in sight."
In response to questions from Xinhua, he said there are many explanations for the satellite images provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) but they remain "a very credible lead".
What Australia needed to do now was to exert all possible efforts to search for the missing plane, he said.