Satellite images taken three days ago show 122 potential pieces of debris from the missing Malaysian Airline flight MH370, Malaysia’s Transport Minister has revealed.
Hishammuddin Hussein described the latest – and largest – find of objects that may have come from the plane at a daily press briefing in Kuala Lumpur.
The news comes after satellite images from China, Australia and France showed items floating in the southern Indian Ocean, where the plane is believed to have crashed, leaving no survivors. So far, none of the objects has been recovered.
“Yesterday, on the 25th of March, the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency, MRSA, received new satellite images from Airbus Defence and Space, which is based in France, and these images were taken on the 23rd of March,” Mr Hussein said on Wednesday evening.
“MRSA analysed the images and in one area of the ocean, measuring some 400 square kilometres, were able to identify 122 potential objects.
“Some objects were one metre in length, other objects were as much as 23 metres in length. Some of the objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid material.
“It must be emphasised that we cannot tell if the potential objects are from MH370. Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation.”
The minister said the objects were found about 2557 kilometres from Perth, Western Australia, which is the base for the six-nation search effort.
Mr Hussein said MRSA immediately forwarded the information to Australian authorities, who have accounted for drift in their calculations.
When the search resumed on Wednesday after being suspended for 24 hours due to bad weather, a dozen planes travelled to the search area and were joined by HMAS Success and Chinese polar supply ship Xue Long.
A Japanese Gulfstream jet also flew to Perth to become involved in any search on Thursday if weather permits, but the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast gale force winds and thunderstorms in the remote area.
It’s a race against time to detect and recover the black box, given there are only some 12 days of life left on the beacon battery that would pinpoint its location.
It may have already sunk to the bottom of the sea.
A scramble is underway to send black box detectors and a robotic underwater vehicle to the search site, but University of Sydney associate professor Peter Gibbens said the odds were “stacked against” black box recovery teams.
Mr Hussein said he thought Malaysia had done a good job in getting 26 nations to work together with “unprecedented co-operation” in the search and shrugged off criticism of the Malaysian authorities’ response to the crisis.
“I think history will judge us well,” he said.
Mr Hussein said he appreciated many families of those on board still don’t accept their loved ones had been lost.
“I am a father and a brother and I know what they are going through,” he said.
“Until we find the debris and we confirm that the debris belongs to MH370, the very questions they are asking we cannot provide.”
Mr Hussein said Malaysia would never give up trying to find the plane.
“Our determination to find MH370 remains steadfast.”
Malaysia Airlines – which was forced to defend its use of text messages on Monday to inform some families of the passengers and crew that their loved ones were believed to be dead – is now taking the lead in communicating with them.
Hundreds of relatives of those aboard the missing plane are expected to travel to Perth in the coming week.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority later tweeted that three objects were spotted on Wednesday in the search area identified by the new French satellite information.