A Chinese military agency on Wednesday released satellite imagery of large pieces of debris floating in the South China Sea along the planned flight path of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet with 239 on board, news agencies in Beijing reported.
The images were captured early Sunday, a day after Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was last heard from on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China's State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said, the Associated Press quoted the New China News Agency as reporting. Bloomberg and CNN also carried reports citing the Chinese government.
The Chinese military agency described the site as "a suspected crash area," based on its location along the jet's flight path and the size of three, light-colored debris pieces spotted on the water's surface, the largest estimated to measure more than 70 feet in length and width.
The Chinese agency gave coordinates of 105.63 east longitude, 6.7 north latitude, in the South China Sea between the Malaysian peninsula and Vietnam.
China had deployed 10 satellites to aid in the search for the plane that had taken off from the Malaysian capital at 12:41 a.m. Saturday and last made radio contact with flight controllers less than an hour later.
The news from the military agency didn't make clear why Beijing failed to report the images captured three days earlier, although the communist nation's secretive armed forces may have been reluctant to immediately reveal technological capabilities to other nations involved in the intensive search for the missing Boeing 777.
Prior to the satellite imagery release, investigators had expressed frustration at the failure to find any sign of the plane after five days of searching an area expanded to cover more than 27,000 square miles.
At the latest count, there were 12 countries involved in the search, with 42 ships and 39 aircraft scouring the waters and jungles of Southeast Asia.