No sign of Malaysia jet in expanded search area

Australian searchers again came up empty-handed Saturday while looking for the missing Malaysian airliner in the remote southern Indian Ocean hours after China released a satellite image of a large, floating object in the region.

The new satellite image, which was captured around noon Tuesday but not released until Saturday, depicted an object 74 feet by 43 feet, located about 75 miles south of where an Australian satellite picked up an image of two objects Sunday. The Australian images were released Thursday.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) ended its search for Saturday without sighting any large objects. The search for Flight MH370, which vanished two weeks ago with 239 people aboard, will resume Sunday, the group said in a statement.

Before the latest Chinese satellite image was released, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott -- on an official visit to Papua New Guinea -- called the Australian satellite images "the first credible evidence of anything that has happened to Flight MH370."

Warren Truss, who serves as acting prime minister while Tony Abbott is in Papua New Guinea, said a complete search could take a long time.

"It is a very remote area, but we intend to continue the search until we're absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile — and that day is not in sight," Truss said from the base near Perth that is serving as a staging area for search aircraft. "If there's something there to be found, I'm confident that this search effort will locate it."

Aircraft involved in the search of the area about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth include two ultra-long-range commercial jets and four P3 Orions, according to AMSA.

The search area Saturday covered about 14,000 square miles, roughly 50% larger than the area searched Friday. Because of the distance to and from the area, the Orions can search for only two hours but the commercial planes can spend five hours looking, the maritime agency said. The area being searched is about 9,800 feet deep, AMSA said.

Two merchant ships are already in the area, and the Royal Australian Navy HMAS Success is en route. Australia sent one plane to fly over one of the remotest places where the satellite images were taken and another four planes flew toward desolate islands of the Antarctic.

Two Japanese aircraft will be arriving in Perth Sunday, and two Chinese aircraft are already there. A small flotilla of ships coming to Australia from China was still several days away.


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