PERTH, Australia: China released Saturday a new satellite image of a large floating object possibly linked to missing Malaysian Flight MH370, boosting search efforts as anger with the pace of the operation boiled over among Chinese relatives in Beijing.
The grainy photo taken on March 18 released by the State Administration of Science Technology and Industry showed an object measuring 22.5 meters by 13 meters in the southern Indian Ocean.
The location was given as just 120 kilometers distant from where March 16 satellite images — released by Australia on Thursday — had detected two pieces of possible wreckage in a remote, storm-swept stretch of ocean around 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth.
Six planes, including four Orion anti-submarine aircraft packed with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, scoured the area for a third straight day without success Saturday.
The emergence of the new photo was announced in Kuala Lumpur by Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who was handed a note during his daily press briefing on the international search for MH370 which vanished two weeks ago.
A visibly animated Hishammuddin wrapped up the briefing early “to follow this lead.”
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said further analysis was needed to determine if the object was related to the missing plane.
“China hopes that these data will be helpful for searching and rescuing efforts,” said Hong, according to Xinhua news agency.
Chinese, British and Australian naval ships are already steaming to the search area and the new image will provide welcome backing for the decision to deploy so many resources without confirmation that the objects are pieces of wreckage.
Two-thirds of the 227 passengers on board the missing plane were Chinese and growing anger among their family members over Malaysia’s handling of the crisis exploded during a meeting with Malaysian officials at a Beijing hotel.
Police were forced to intervene as relatives rushed toward the officials, demanding answers which they accuse the Malaysians of withholding.
“Government of Malaysia, tell us the truth! Give us back our loved ones!” they shouted.
After the police stepped in, the Malaysian officials left the room.
“We can’t bear it any longer,” one of the relatives said later. “They’re offering us compensation, but we’ve lost our entire families.