A search by Malaysian authorities of an area of the South China Sea, in which Chinese satellite pictures appeared to show floating debris, has yielded no further clues into the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 six days ago.
Transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a press conference on 13 March that Malaysia had dispatched assets to search the area where the debris was spotted by Chinese satellites; however no signs of the aircraft were found.
China's state science administration had published three photographs of objects at a location some 120nm east of flight MH370's last known position.
Hishamuddin read from a statement from the Chinese embassy that said the release of the satellite images “was a mistake” and that the Chinese government had "neither authorised nor endorsed" their publication.
Along with Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Hishamuddin also denied reports that Rolls-Royce and Boeing had received ACARS messages relating to engine data for several hours after it disappeared from secondary surveillance radar over the South China Sea on 8 March.
“As far as Rolls-Royce and Boeing are concerned, those reports are inaccurate,” Hishammudin said, adding that teams from both companies have been involved in the investigation.
“Based on our records, the last ACARS transmission was done a 01:07 local time [on 8 March],” Ahmad added. He also noted that the last transmission indicated that the aircraft was operating normally.
Hishammuddin labelled the situation as “unprecedented”, and added that Malaysia is sparing no expense or resources to pursue the various leads in the hope of locating signs of the missing aircraft.
There are now over 80 ships and aircraft from a number of countries involved in the air and sea search, which is taking place on both sides of the Malaysian peninsula after military radar data raised the possibility that the aircraft may have been attempting to turn back after it was lost to civil radar.
Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing had been transporting 239 passengers and crew at the time of its disappearance.