A series of satellite images released by the Chinese government may offer the first solid leads in the 5-day hunt for a vanished Malaysia Airlines 777
The Chinese government released satellite images Wednesday that it said might show the location where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crashed, according to state media, a potential but unconfirmed clue of happened to the jet five days after it vanished without a trace.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the images released by China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense show “a suspected plane crash at sea,” CNN reports. The agency announced it discovered “three suspected floating objects and their sizes” on Sunday but waited until Wednesday to release the information, the Associated Press reports. The location —near the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea—coincides with the presumed flight path the Boeing 777 was taking from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing before it disappeared from radar on Saturday with 239 people on board.
The days-long search effort has yielded little in the way of clues so far, and it was impossible to immediately verify if the Chinese images are of the actual crash site. Though the site is near the presumed flight path, the Malaysian military said Tuesday that the jet had veered wildly off course. The objects discovered at sea are 13 meters by 18 meters, 14 meters by 19 meters, and 24, meters by 22 meters, according to state media.
The Malaysian military in a Wednesday press conference confirmed reports it recorded but disregarded radar data over the weekend that may be related to the missing jet. While those readings showing a potential unidentified aircraft could’ve triggered a sortie to identity the source of the signals, the Malaysian military took no such action, per the New York Times.
The flight never sent out a distress signal before it went missing. Apart from the possible evidence in the Chinese satellite images, a massive and still-growing international search effort has thus far found no concrete trace of the airliner. Families of the passengers have been stuck in a painful limbo since the disappearance.
Update: This story was updated at 9:24 p.m. ET to include a reference to the Malaysian military’s unconfirmed radar sightings.