26 March 2014
NEW satellite images have found about 122 objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean, raising hopes that the search for MH370 may be narrowing in on the plane’s resting place.
The objects, measuring from one metre to 23 metres long, were picked up on a French satellite four days ago and sent to the Australian search co-ordinators today.
Some of the objects appeared to be bright in colour and possibly of solid material.
It is the biggest field of possible debris spotted so far in the multinational search for the Boeing 777-200 and is the “most credible lead” so far.
And late in the day the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said three objects had been sighted — two of them were spotted from a civilian aircraft in the search and were likely to be rope and the third, seen from a NZ P3 Orion, was a blue object.
Further passes over the area could not locate them, AMSA said.
Details of the French satellite images were revealed last night by Malaysia’s Defence and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
He said the images were taken by Airbus Defence and Space, in France, on March 23.
Mr Hussein said the images were analysed by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency on Tuesday. They found that in an area of ocean about 400 square kilometres there were 122 potential objects, about 2557km from Perth.
It is the fourth set of satellite images showing potential debris since March 16 but so far none has been psychically located or picked up from the ocean.
The latest images are not far from the objects seen on Australian and Chinese satellites on March 16 and 18.
Mr Hussein said it was now “imperative that we link the debris to MH370.”
“This will enable us to further reduce the search area and locate more debris from the plane,” he said, adding this would enable the search to move into the next phase of deep sea surveillance and salvage.
Mr Hussien also paid special tribute to Australia for its role in leading the difficult search.
“I would like to convey our appreciate to the Australian authorities and in particular to Prime Minister Tony Abbott for making such an extraordinary contribution to the search operation,” Mr Hussein said.
Twelve planes and two ships searched on Wednesday.