Last updated Sunday, October 26, 2014 07:28am

A military personnel looks out of a helicopter during a search and rescue mission off Vietnam's Tho Chu island March 10, 2014. — Reuters picA military personnel looks out of a helicopter during a search and rescue mission off Vietnam's Tho Chu island March 10, 2014. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — A team of Chinese scientists picked up signals of a “seismic event” on the seafloor between Vietnam and Malaysia on March 8, which they claimed were consistent with a plane crash and could possibly be related to the missing MH370 aircraft.

Researchers with the University of Science and Technology of China, one of the country’s top schools, said today that they detected the tremor on March 8, the same day the Boeing 777-20ER carrying 239 people dropped from civilian radar 120 nautical miles off Kota Baru on Malaysia’s east coast.

An online statement posted on the university’s website said the signal came from two seismic monitor stations in Malaysia, which indicated that a slight tremor had occurred on the seafloor at about 2.55am on March 8, some 150 kilometres off the southern tip of Vietnam.

“It was a non-seismic zone, therefore judging from the time and location of the event, it might be related to the missing MH370 flight,” South China Morning Post quoted the statement as saying.

The tremor took place about 85 minutes after MH370 lost contact with air control, and about 116km northeast of the spot where it was reportedly last heard from. 

“If it was indeed an airplane crashing into the sea, the seismic wave strength indicated that the crash process was catastrophic,” the statement added.

If verified, the revelation will likely add confusion to the vast ongoing search and rescue operations now expanded to include the Indian Ocean, following tips from US navy officials that the plane may have altered its course and stayed airborne for several hours.

The latest revelation was based on an analysis of signals sent through the plane’s satellite communication (SATCOM) link.

The Indian Ocean has an average depth of 13,002 feet (3,963 metres) while its deepest point, the Java Trench is believed to be at -23,812 feet (-7,258 metres), according to information in the CIA World Factbook.

In the Gallery


  • Muslims perform a special prayer for passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • The Royal Malaysian Navy corvette KD Terengganu and a Sea Hawk helicopter from the USS Pinckney conduct a search for a missing MH370 in the Gulf of Thailand March 12, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A woman wearing a mask against the haze walks past a board saying ‘Pray for MH370’ in front of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A woman who cries is seen through a door of a room for relatives or friends of passengers aboard missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, at a hotel in Beijing, March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • College students in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, China hold placards near lit up candles as they pray for passengers of the missing MH370 plane, March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • College students light up candles as they pray for passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Malaysia Airlines Commercial Director Hugh Dunleavy sits in front of a large projection screen at a briefing for the family members of passengers on board the missing MH370 aircraft, at a hotel in Beijing March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A woman shouts to journalists, in front of a hotel in Beijing, March 14, 2014, asking not to take pictures of families of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370. — Reuters pic

  • A woman cries as she walks out of a room for relatives or friends of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a hotel in Beijing, March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A family member of a passenger on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 reacts during a briefing from the Malaysia Airlines at a hotel in Beijing March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Family members of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 sit on chairs as they wait for news at a hotel in Beijing March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Philippine Navy crew members onboard the Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas Apolinario Mabini (Patrol Ship 36) scour the West Philippine Sea, as they search for the missing Malaysia Airline MH370 plane, in this picture supplied by the Philippine Navy.

  • DCA chief Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya at a press conference on MH370 today at KLIA in Sepang, on March 13, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • DCA chief Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya at a press conference on MH370 today at KLIA in Sepang, on March 13, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • A man reads a Tamil newspaper with a story about the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on its front page in Kuala Lumpur March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A 'Pray for MH370' message displayed at the digital board at the Projek Lebuhraya Utara Selatan (PLUS) expressway near the E6 link. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • A member of a rescue team takes part in a search and rescue operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A member of a rescue team looks through binoculars during a search and rescue operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A 'Pray for MH370' projection is seen on the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) building in Kuala Lumpur March 14, 2014. — Reuters pic

The Boeing 777 aircraft had enough fuel to fly up to 8.30am on March 8, leaving it with some seven hours of fuel in its tanks when it lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control (ATC).

The current search operation involving 12 countries and dozens of air and sea vessels are already scouring a watery expanse significantly larger than Malaysia’s total land mass of about 330,000 square kilometres.

As of yesterday, over 80 ships and aircraft have been split into groups to cover some 414,400 square kilometres of sea.

To the east of Peninsula Malaysia, search teams are looking over 107,500 square kilometres centred on the last point of contact the jumbo jet had with the Subang air control tower at around 1.30am on Saturday.