China has deployed 10 satellites to help locate a missing Malaysian airliner, according to media reports. Dozens of ships and aircraft from 10 countries are looking for the plane as the search enters its fourth day.
The satellites will use high-resolution earth imaging capabilities, visible light imaging and other technologies to "support and assist in the search and rescue operations for the Malaysian Airlines aircraft," the People's Liberation Army Daily said on Tuesday in an article carried on the defense ministry's website.
The satellites were reprogrammed by the Xi'an Satellite Control Center in northwest China to aid in the search effort. They will also help with weather monitoring and assist communication during the search in the area where the plane disappeared, the newspaper said.
The international operation to locate the plane, which disappeared on Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, includes authorities from China, Malaysia, the United States, Singapore, Vietnam, New Zealand, Indonesia, Australia and Thailand.
The Chinese government on Monday urged Malaysia to speed up search efforts to find the plane. Around two-thirds of the aircraft's 227 passengers and 12 crew, who are now presumed to have died, were Chinese. If confirmed, it would be China's second-worst ever air disaster.
Mystery surrounds search
The reason for the Boeing 777's disappearance remained unclear on Tuesday. Authorities are trying to determine exactly what appeared to have brought down the aircraft in the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam. Possible causes range from an explosion to catastrophic engine failure, extreme turbulence or pilot error.
Two of the passengers on the flight were traveling on passports stolen in Thailand and had tickets onward to Europe. Their tickets were purchased by an Iranian man through two Thai tour agencies, police confirmed Tuesday.
The man, known as "Mr. Ali," booked the tickets through Grand Horizon and Six Stars Travel in the Pattaya beach resort. Both tickets were paid for in Thai baht by another Iranian man, who runs a picture-framing business in the resort.
"We've questioned him but we didn't find anything suspicious about him," said Pattaya Police Chief Colonel Suphachai Phuikaewkham. "It's too early to say if this case is a case involving terrorists."
dr/jm (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)