Satellite image may show plane debris

BEIJING (AP) - A Chinese government agency is saying that a Chinese satellite observed a suspected crash site in the sea.  Rescue teams have been searching 35,000 square miles of ocean, trying to find Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which vanished early Saturday morning after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.

The satellite image shows three large objects floating off the southern tip of Vietnam.  One of the objects is 79 feet long, and could be indicative of aircraft wreckage, though it is not confirmed that these are pieces of the plane.

The images are from Sunday, March 9.  It is not clear why the images are just now being made public.

American radar experts from the FAA and NTSB have also been called in to help trace the last known whereabouts of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  

“When we looked at the recording it proved that there is a possibility that this aircraft made a turn back, but we are not sure if it is the same aircraft,” said Gen. Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, the Head of Malaysian Armed Forces earlier Wednesday.

If the plane did make that abrupt U-turn, the pilot’s last known words, “All right, good night,” don’t indicate any distress.

Another possible lead came from an oil rig worker off the coast of Vietnam.  In an email, he said he saw a burning object in the sky, but search planes found nothing.

As ships and helicopters have been looking for any sign of the 239 missing passengers and crew members, allegations are also being investigated that the plane’s co-pilot allowed two young women onto the flight deck on a trip back in 2011.

“It didn’t feel like it was something new to them. The crew also seemed to be quite comfortable with it, so it struck me that it was something that had happened before,” said passenger Jonti Roos of Australia.

With no idea whether terrorism or pilot error caused the plane to vanish from radar, authorities now have another possibility to explore.  Just last month, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive regarding Boeing 777’s in the US.  After reports that cracking of the fuselage skin could lead to rapid decompression or oxygen loss in the cabin, causing a loss of structural integrity to the airplane.  Experts say those concerns could apply to Flight 370 even though it was a slightly older model.

“It’s just disappeared off the face of the earth.  If we could just find some wreckage or something, would be a help, probably,” said Irene Burrows, whose son was on Flight 370.

 

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