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Missing Malaysian plane: China vows to continue search

China’s Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to continue search efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight “as long as there is a glimmer of hope”.

His comments came as Vietnam and Malaysia investigated satellite images released by China that appeared to show possible debris in the South China Sea.

However, they were unable to find debris at the same location.

Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing late on Friday, with 239 passengers and crew on board.

Teams have since been searching waters on both sides of the Malaysian peninsula for any sign of the plane.

The satellite images, released on Wednesday, appeared to identify floating objects 150 miles (250km) or so from the aircraft’s last known position.

However, Dinh Viet Thang, deputy director of Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority, told AFP that two planes sent to inspect the area had returned, and “found nothing so far”.

Similarly, Malaysian Civil Aviation Chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told reporters that Malaysia’s planes did not find anything.

“There is nothing. We went there, there is nothing,” he said.

Several previous sightings of possible debris in other areas have proved fruitless.

Speaking at a press conference that came as China’s annual parliament session ended, Li Keqiang said: “We will not give up on any suspected clue that has been found.

“This is an international and large-scale search operation involving many countries.”

He also urged Malaysia to step up search efforts, saying: “The Chinese government has asked relevant parties to enhance co-ordination, investigate the cause, locate the missing plane as quickly as possible and properly handle all related matters.”

Earlier, China’s foreign ministry complained that there was “too much confusion” regarding information released about the plane’s flight path.

The plane vanished late on Friday, about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur.

No distress signal or message was sent from the flight, which was carrying 153 Chinese nationals among its passengers.

Late on Wednesday, satellite images of possible debris from the flight were released on a Chinese government website.

The images were taken on Sunday, a day after the plane disappeared, but were only released on Wednesday.

An officer at the department that took the photos, China’s Centre for Resources Satellite Data and Application, told the BBC that it had taken them time to analyse the data.

China’s civil aviation chief Li Jiaxiang said: “Chinese satellites have found smoke and floating objects… At present we cannot confirm this is related to the missing aircraft.”

The large amount of data generated probably explains why it has taken four days to publish the photographs, the BBC’s John Sudworth in Beijing reports.

Whatever the objects are, they are likely to have drifted far on the currents by now, our correspondent adds.

AFP news agency quoted US officials as saying that US spy satellites had detected no sign of an explosion in the area at the time. The system has detected such heat signatures in the past but none was discovered this time, the officials said.

Earlier, Malaysian authorities revealed that the last communication from the jet suggested everything was normal on board.

Flight MH370 replied “All right, roger that” to a radio message from Malaysian air control, authorities said. Minutes later all contact with the plane was lost.

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