Jet search 'remains priority'

Updated: 2014-03-27 08:47

By Cui Jia and He Liu (China Daily USA)

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More than 120 objects located in ocean by new satellite imagery

Chinese special envoy Zhang Yesui has stressed the urgency of continuing to make all-out efforts to find the Malaysia Airlines jetliner.

The appeal by Zhang came on Wednesday as new satellite images identified more than 120 objects in the southern Indian Ocean that might be from the ill-fated flight MH370.

The search remains the top priority and must be carried on unremittingly, Zhang, a vice-foreign minister, said when meeting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur.

He also said he hoped that Malaysia would provide "comprehensive and correct" information that the Boeing 777-200 crashed into the southern Indian Ocean with all lives lost, as announced by Najib on Monday night.

Zhang, who arrived in the Malaysian capital on the instructions of President Xi Jinping, also met Malaysia's acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, and Malaysia Airlines executives.

The plane has been missing shortly after taking off on March 8 from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people on board, including 154 Chinese nationals.

The latest sightings came as planes and ships stepped up the hunt.

Hishammuddin told a news conference: "We have now had four separate satellite leads, from Australia, China and France, showing possible debris. It is now imperative that we link the debris to MH370.

"As we have said all along, we will never give up trying to find the plane in order to bring closure for the families and to establish exactly what happened to MH370."

The latest images were captured by France-based Airbus Defence and Space on Monday and showed 122 objects in a 400-sq-km area of ocean, he said. The objects varied in length from 1 meter to 23 meters.

Calmer seas returned on Wednesday and the search resumed in remote waters off Western Australia.

A total of 12 planes and five ships from China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand resumed the hunt for debris.

Three Chinese navy ships as well as icebreaker Xuelong, which was diverted from a mission in the Antarctic, have arrived in the search area designated by Australia.

Hishammuddin said the Chinese delegation led by Zhang was updated with the latest information from British company Inmarsat, whose satellite data led to the announcement that the flight ended in the Indian Ocean.

The delegation was also given a comprehensive briefing by the international technical team comprising experts from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Australia has divided the search area into two sectors, east and west, with six planes operating in each, Hishammuddin added.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the search on Malaysia's behalf, said efforts on Wednesday focused on 80,000 sq km of ocean. The search area is about 2,500 km southwest of Perth.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament: "A considerable amount of debris has been sighted in the area where the flight was last recorded. Bad weather and inaccessibility have so far prevented any of it from being recovered. But we are confident that it will be."

In Beijing, families of the Chinese passengers remained angry after protesting in front of the Malaysian embassy on Tuesday.

"Without debris from the plane or bodies, no one has the right to say that our loved ones are dead. The evidence provided by the Malaysian government is not convincing at all," a member of the committee representing the families said. He was speaking as he questioned Malaysia Airlines representatives and the country's ambassador to China, Iskandar Sarudin, at the Metropark Lido Hotel in Beijing.

The airline representatives answered questions from the family members for more than three hours, but most of the passengers' relatives remained unsatisfied with the answers.

"We've lost trust in the Malaysian government," said a woman in her 50s who declined to be named. Her nephew was on the plane with his girlfriend.

"He was about to propose to her," she said.

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Xinhua and agencies contributed to this story.

 Jet search 'remains priority'

A relative of passengers on the Malaysia Airlines plane speaks to the media at the Lido Hotel in Beijing on Wednesday. Wang Zhao / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily USA 03/27/2014 page1)