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Flight MH370: New debris spotted, but only seaweed found

UPDATE / March 23:  During Saturday’s search activities a civil aircraft tasked by Austalian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) reported sighting a number of small objects with the naked eye, including a wooden pallet, within a radius of 5km, the AMSA revealed today.

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 RNZAF Orion dropped a datum marker buoy to track the movement of the material. A merchant ship in the area has been tasked to relocate and seek to identify the material.

The day's only other major development saw China provide a satellite image to Australia Saturday evening, possibly showing a 22.5 metre floating object in the southern Indian Ocean.

AMSA has plotted the position and it falls within the current search area.

The object was not sighted on Saturday.


Abbott denies he jumped the gun; China sends seven warships

UPDATE / March 22: China will send as many as seven warships to join the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

The move follows a series of phone calls between Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday night and Friday morning, which led to an agreement on further cooperation in the hunt for the missing aircraft.

China said it was directing three of its most modern naval ships to the waters off Perth. There are reports a further four might be sent.

Meanwhile, Mr Abbott, speaking from Papua New Guinea late Friday, denied he had jumped the gun by going public with information about debris spotted in satellite images.

''Now, it could just be a container that has fallen off a ship," Mr Abbott told reporters. "We just don't know, but we owe it to the families and the friends and the loved ones of the almost 240 people on flight MH370 to do everything we can to try to resolve what is as yet an extraordinary riddle.

"Because of the understandable state of anxiety and apprehension that they're in we also owe it to them to give them information as soon as it's to hand.

"I think I was doing that yesterday in the Parliament."

A number of aircraft, including an NZRAF Orion, have so far failed to spot the possible debris, located in satellite images taken 2500km south west of Perth.

Meanwhile, UK newspaper The Telegraph says it has obtained a full recording of all 54 minutes of communication between Flight MH370 and air traffic control. The recording contains no unusual passages.  

Lithium ion batteries onboard
A Straits Times report out of Singapore says Malaysia Airlines has confirmed MH370 was carrying a consignment of lithium ion batteries. Commonly used in smartphones and laptops, lithium ion batteries have at times overheated or burst into flame, making them the subject of a number of recalls.

However, the airline says standard precautions were taken.

"These are not regarded as dangerous goods... and were packed as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation," said Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

Such batteries are carried by many other airlines, he added.

The International Air Transport Association estimates that over a billion lithium cells are flown each year.


Flight MH370: planes fail to spot debris located in satellite images

UPDATE / March 21: Aircraft abandoned their search for the night without spotting any of the debris earlier located by satellite.

Three planes from NZ, Australia and the US converged on a spot in the southern Indian Ocean 2500km south west of Perth Thursday afternoon local time (Thursday evening NZ time).

The search aircraft were hampered by "extremely bad" weather, with rain and low cloud.

"The weather conditions were such that we were unable to see for very much of the flight today," RAAF Orion Flight Lieutenant Chris Birrer told media.

Earlier, satellite imagery had been used to locate "credible" evidence of possible Flight MH370 debris. A US media report initially indicated more might have been found.

Flight MH370: planes fail to spot debris located in satellite images

Wreckage off Perth could be from Flight MH370 - Aussie PM

March 20: Two objects spotted off the coast of Perth could be wreckage from Flight MH370, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

The objects were spotted in satellite imagery supplied to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Mr Abbott said.

Although he stressed it was not yet clear if they were from the missing Malaysia Airlines 777, the PM also called the information "credible." The imagery had undergone specialist analysis.

The debris was spotted 2500km south west of Perth.

The largest of the two objects has been assessed as being 24 metres long, the other 5m. 

Mr Abbott told Parliament this afternoon that a P-3 Orion had been diverted to check out the objects and would be followed by other planes.

The Orion is due to arrive on the scene about 3pm local time (8pm NZT), Mr Abbott said. An NZ Air Force Orion and a US Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft are also heading to the location. However, there may not be immediate news or confirmation; visibility is said to be poor, and the Indian Ocean ranges from 3000m to 4000m in depth in the debris zone.

Commercial satellites have been diverted to take high resolution pictures of the area.

Speaking from China, Prime Minister John Key said, for the families of the two New Zealanders aboard the flight, this was probably "An acknowledgement of what they've been fearing the most - that their loved ones are no longer alive."

The Malaysia Airlines aircraft has now been missing for 12 days.