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Chinese satellite may have spotted Malaysia Airlines debris

  |   March 12, 2014 at 5:17 PM
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BEIJING, March 12 (UPI) -- The Chinese government Wednesday said one of its satellites searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may have spotted debris from the plane.

China's State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said the satellite detected "three suspected floating objects and their sizes," CNN reported.

The debris was spotted in the Strait of Malacca Sunday, the day after the Boeing jetliner vanished on a red eye flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

Earlier, Vietnam suspended part of its search for the missing plane while awaiting Malaysia's response to inquiries, an official said.

Chief Coordinator and Deputy Transport Minister Pham Quy Tieu said Vietnamese officials have asked the Malaysian government twice for confirmation and response to the reports it found signals of the ill-fated flight and located a rear section of the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, but Malaysian officials haven't responded yet, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The pilot's sign-off was the last thing transmitted before Flight MH370 went missing during the weekend, Malaysian government officials said.

"All right, good night," were the last words transmitted before the plane, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, disappeared from radar screens Saturday about an hour after it took off, the Straits Times reported.

Officials at the Vietnamese command told Xinhua search efforts originating from Phu Quoc Island would be suspended and search planes based on Phu Quoc Island were ordered to move to the southeastern port of Vung Tau.

An official with the National Committee for Search and Rescue in Hanoi said the army would keep its search activities in place. An official at the aviation search-and-rescue command post under Vietnam's Air Traffic Coordination Center also told Xinhua a number of planes have taken off from an airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

Malaysian aviation officials said MH370's last message was spoken after Malaysian air traffic controllers told the pilots the plane was entering Vietnamese air space.

Malaysian civil aviation officials and the country's envoy to China, Datuk Iskandar Sarudin, met in Beijing Wednesday with relatives of the 153 Chinese passengers on the flight who had questions.

Searchers haven't found any trace of the airplane despite expanding the maritime and land search field.

During the meeting with the more than 400 relatives, a Malaysian official was asked if the plane had been picked up by military radar, which is more technologically advanced than civilian radar. The official said the Malaysian military was assisting investigations "at a high level" and said "now is not the time" to discuss what information the military gave authorities, the Straits Times reported.

Following revelations that two passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight were traveling on passports stolen in Thailand, concerns have been raised over immigration security systems in other countries, including Indonesia, the Bernama news agency reported.

Former Indonesian Ambassador to the United States, Dino Patti Djalal, said cases of missing passports were also common for Indonesians living abroad and called on anyone with knowledge about stolen passports to contact an Indonesian Embassy or Consulate.

"Many Indonesians lose their passports. Back when I was an ambassador, there were many of such reports. In the future, Indonesians who lose their passports should immediately report it," Dino said as quoted by the Jakarta Globe Wednesday.

Malaysian military leader Gen. Tan Sri Rodzali Daud said the military hadn't ruled out the possibility that the plane turned back deviating from its scheduled flight path before it disappeared and that the military was examining and analyzing all possibilities concerning the airliner's flight path.

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