KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 – New satellite images have detected 122 potential objects that may be related to the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 aircraft, approximately 2,557km from Perth, Australia. Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Wednesday, the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) yesterday received new satellite images which were taken on March 23, from French-based Airbus Defence and Space.
“MRSA analysed the images and – in one area of the ocean measuring some 400 square kilometres – was able to identify 122 potential objects. “Some objects were a metre in length; others were as much as 23 metres in length. Some of the objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials,” he told a daily media briefing on the latest development pertaining to the search for the missing aircraft.
He said MRSA’s findings were immediately forwarded to the Australian Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Perth yesterday. “It must be emphasised that we cannot tell whether the potential objects are from MH370. Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation,” said Hishammuddin. He said the objects were also located not far from possible objects that might be related to the missing aircraft detected by French and Chinese satellites.
“We have now had four separate satellite leads, from Australia, China and France, showing possible debris. It is now imperative that we link the debris to MH370,” he said. He said all the satellite leads would enable the search team to further reduce the search area, and locate more debris from the aircraft. Hishammuddin said Australia, which is leading the search effort in the southern Indian Ocean, had divided the search area into two sectors, East and West.
“Today, the weather has improved, and 12 planes will travel to the search area six in the East sector and six in the West,” he added. He said in the East sector, searches would be conducted by an Australian P3 Orion, three Australian civilian aircraft, a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 and a New Zealand P3 Orion. In the West sector, searches would be conducted by a United States (US) P8 Poseidon, a Korean P3 Orion, Japanese P3 Orion, two Australian P3 Orions, and a civilian aircraft.
“Yesterday, (Australian) HMAS Success was redeployed to the south of the search area due to bad weather. Today, the ship has returned and will support the search operation in the West sector. “Meanwhile, the Chinese ship Xue Long has today been deployed to the East sector,” said Hishammuddin. Hishammuddin said a Japanese Coast Guard Gulfstream aircraft left the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang this morning for Perth, to join in the search operation.
On the search operations in the northern corridor, and in the northern part of the southern corridor, which have been called off, he said the foreign ministry had sent diplomatic notes to all relevant countries to formally inform them of the change. “I would like to convey our appreciation to the Australian authorities, and in particular to (Australian) Prime Minister Tony Abbot, for making such an extraordinary contribution to the search operation.
“I would like to thank once again, our international partners for their continued support and assistance. The search for MH370, and the investigation into what happened on board the flight, is now a truly international effort,” he said. Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 and disappeared from the radar about an hour later, while over the South China Sea. It was to have landed in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day.