Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday said his country would search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner “as long as there is a glimmer of hope,” after the most recent search mission at sea failed to find debris.
Malaysian aviation authorities said nothing was found at a location that Chinese satellite images suggested contained “suspicious floating objects”.
Vietnamese officials said the stretch of sea – close to where the plane lost contact with air traffic control – had already been “searched thoroughly” in recent days.
Nevertheless, two Vietnamese aircraft responding to information provided by the Chinese satellite repeatedly circled over the area over the South China Sea.
Malaysia and Singapore also dispatched search planes to scan the waters where China said three unidentified objects that might have been debris were detected over the weekend.
The hunt for the Boeing 777 has been punctuated by false leads since it disappeared with 239 people aboard just hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday.
The plane was heading east over the South China Sea when it disappeared, but authorities believe it may have turned back and headed into the upper reaches of the Strait of Malacca or beyond.
Malaysia has come under criticism for its handling of the search, which currently covers 92,600 square kilometers (35,800 square miles) and involves 12 nations.
Meanwhile, US investigators suspect that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 stayed in the air for about four hours past the time it reached its last confirmed location, according to a report by an American daily. Initial reports had said the plane fell off civilian radar screens at 1:30 a.m. about 35,000 feet above the Gulf of Thailand, between Malaysia and southern Vietnam.
Citing two people familiar with ongoing investigations, the Wall Street Journal reported that the plane could have flown on for hundreds of additional miles under conditions that remain murky.
US national security officials believe the plane flew for a total of five hours based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the plane's engines.
The transmission of the data is part of a routine maintenance and monitoring program, the Journal said.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-13