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March 22, 2014

China satellite finds object near jet search area

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A satellite image released by China on Saturday offers the latest sign that wreckage from a Malaysia Airlines plane lost for more than two weeks could be in a remote stretch of the southern Indian Ocean where planes and ships have been searching for three days.

China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said on its website that a Chinese satellite took an image of an object 72 feet by 43 feet around noon Tuesday. The image location was about 75 miles south of where an Australian satellite viewed two objects two days earlier. The larger object was about as long as the one the Chinese satellite detected.

"The news that I just received is that the Chinese ambassador received a satellite image of a floating object in the southern corridor and they will be sending ships to verify," Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters Saturday.

The latest image is another clue in the baffling search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which dropped off air traffic control screens March 8 over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board.

After about a week of confusion, authorities said pings sent by the Boeing 777 for several hours after it disappeared indicated that the plane ended up in one of two huge arcs: a northern corridor stretching from Malaysia to Central Asia, or a southern corridor that stretches toward Antarctica.

The discovery of the two objects by the Australian satellite led several countries to send planes and ships to a stretch of the Indian Ocean about 1,550 miles southwest of Australia. One of the objects spotted in the earlier satellite imagery was described as almost 80 feet in length and the other was 15 feet. But three days of searching have produced nothing. The Boeing 777-200 is about 209 feet long with a wingspan of 199 feet and a fuselage about 20 feet in diameter, according to Boeing's website.

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