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Satellite Spots More Potential Debris, But Still No Sure Sign Of Plane

Chinese relatives of the passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 wait for the latest information at Lido Hotel Sunday in Beijing, China.
Lintao Zhang
Getty Images
Chinese relatives of the passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 wait for the latest information at Lido Hotel Sunday in Beijing, China.

It's déjà vu all over again in the more-than-two-week search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370: Today, like yesterday, Malaysian authorities announced that another satellite detected suspected debris near the spot they believe the 777 went missing.

This time it was a French satellite that spotted an object of interest in the southern Indian Ocean.

The New York Times reports:

" 'Australia, China and France have now released satellite images that show potential objects, which may be related to MH370, in the vicinity of the southern corridor,' said the statement. 'All this information has been forwarded to Australia, as the lead country in the area of concern.'

"The ministry gave no other details about the image or its precise location. But the announcement appears likely to reinforce a belief that the Malaysia Airlines plane probably fell into the ocean off Western Australia after departing radically from its planned route. Investigators believe military radar and satellite signals indicate the plane cut across peninsular Malaysia, headed west over the Indian Ocean, and then possibly struck south toward where Australia has organized a search involving New Zealand and the United States. Britain, China and Japan have also sent military planes and ships to aid the hunt."

Australia, for its part, continued the search. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement that a total of about 10 aircraft are scouring an area covering 59,000 square kilometers.

At one point yesterday, aircraft spotted "small objects of interest."

"A Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion aircraft with specialist electro-optic observation equipment was diverted to the location, arriving after the first aircraft left but only reported sighting clumps of seaweed," the AMSA said.

Update at 1:06 p.m. ET. Radar Echoes:

The Star, from Malaysia, reports:

"France's foreign ministry clarified that the new satellite data from France indicating floating objects in the search area for MH370 came in the form of 'satellite-generated radar echoes,' Reuters reported.

"A radar echo is an electronic signal that contains information about the location and distance of the object which bounces the signal back."

We've tweaked the language at the beginning of this post to reflect this development.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.