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Satellite images of possible missing plane debris released by Chinese government

The pictures were taken by a satellite on Sunday.

Satellite image of suspected crash site. The pictures taken on Sunday, according to Chinese news agency, Xinhua.
Satellite image of suspected crash site. The pictures taken on Sunday, according to Chinese news agency, Xinhua.

SATELLITE IMAGES ON a Chinese government website show suspected debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner floating off the southern tip of Vietnam, near the plane’s original flight path, China’s Xinhua News Agency reported this evening.

The revelation could provide searchers with a focus that has eluded them since the plane disappeared with 239 people aboard early Saturday.

The Xinhua report said the images from around 11am on Sunday appear to show “three suspected floating objects” of varying sizes, the largest about 24 meters (79 feet) by 22 meters (72 feet).

The report includes coordinates of a location in the sea off the southern tip of Vietnam and east of Malaysia. The images originally were posted on a national defense technology website.

No other governments have confirmed the Xinhua report, which did not say when Chinese officials became aware of the images and associated them with the missing plane. They state that verification is ongoing.

The search for the plane, which left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing before disappearing early Saturday, has encompassed 35,800 square miles (92,600 square kilometers) of Southeast Asia and on Wednesday expanded toward India.

imageMap shows search areas for missing Malaysia Airlines jet. (AP Photo)

Two-thirds of the passengers on the flight were Chinese, and the Chinese government has put increasing pressure on Malaysian officials to find solve the mystery of the plane’s disappearance.

It was also revealed that the last message from the cockpit of the missing flight was routine. “All right, good night,” was the signoff transmitted to air traffic controllers five days ago.

Then the Boeing 777 vanished as it cruised over the South China Sea toward Vietnam, and nothing has been seen or heard of the jetliner since.

Those final words were picked up by controllers and relayed in Beijing to anguished relatives of some of the people aboard Flight MH370.

The new Chinese reports of the satellite images came after several days of sometimes confusing and conflicting statements from Malaysian officials.

Earlier today, the Malaysian military officially disclosed why it was searching on both sides of country. A review of military radar records showed what might have been the plane turning back and crossing westward into the Strait of Malacca.

That would conflict with the latest images on the Chinese website.

Read: Malaysia under fire over ‘chaotic’ search for missing jet>

Read: ‘Alright, good night’ – last known words of mystery Malaysia Airlines flight>

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Associated Press

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