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This image provided by China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense shows a floating object seen at sea next to a descriptor. / Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense via AP

Australian searchers again came up empty-handed Saturday while looking for the missing Malaysian airliner in the remote southern Indian Ocean hours after China released a satellite image of a large, floating object in the region.

The new satellite image, which was captured around noon Tuesday and released Saturday, depicted an object 74 feet by 43 feet, located about 75 miles south of where an Australian satellite picked up an image of two objects Sunday. The Australian images were released Thursday.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) ended its search Saturday without sighting any large objects. An aircraft aiding in the hunt for the missing airliner did find some small objects in the search area, including a wooden pallet, but a military aircraft sent to the location discovered only clumps of seaweed.

The search for Flight 370, which vanished two weeks ago with 239 people aboard, will resume Sunday. AMSA plotted the position of the object in the Chinese satellite image and said it will take that information into account for Sunday's search plans.

Meanwhile, Sunday's search in the southern corridor could be impacted by Cyclone Gillian. The tropical cyclone may bring "very strong winds and rough seas," said Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysian defense minister and acting minister of transport.

The storm is expected to further intensify Sunday before weakening into Monday and Tuesday, the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology said.

In general, "conditions in the southern corridor are very challenging," said Hussein, noting deep and varying underwater terrain, along with strong currents.

Before the latest Chinese satellite image was released, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott - on an official visit to Papua New Guinea - called the Australian satellite images "the first credible evidence of anything that has happened to Flight MH370."

The search area Saturday covered about 14,000 square miles, roughly 50% larger than the area searched Friday. Because of the distance to and from the area, the P3 Orion aircraft can search for only two hours, but the commercial planes can spend five hours looking, the AMSA said. The area being searched is about 9,800 feet deep, it said.

Warren Truss, who serves as acting prime minister while Tony Abbott is in Papua New Guinea, said a complete search could take a long time.

"It is a very remote area, but we intend to continue the search until we're absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile - and that day is not in sight," Truss said from the base near Perth that is serving as a staging area for search aircraft. "If there's something there to be found, I'm confident that this search effort will locate it."

Two merchant ships are already in the area, and the Royal Australian Navy HMAS Success is en route. Australia sent one plane to fly over one of the remotest places where the satellite images were taken and another four planes flew toward desolate islands of the Antarctic.

Two Japanese aircraft will be arriving in Perth on Sunday, and two Chinese aircraft are already there. A small flotilla of ships coming to Australia from China was several days away.

Contributing: The Associated Press



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: No sign of Malaysia jet in expanded search area

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