The latest sighting came as searchers stepped up efforts to find
some trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, thought to have
crashed on March 8 after flying thousands of miles off course.
"It must be emphasized that we cannot tell whether the potential
objects are from MH370," Hishammuddin Hussein told a news
conference. "Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help
direct the search operation."
The images were captured by France-based Airbus Defence & Space on
Monday and showed 122 potential objects in a 400 sq km (155 sq mile)
area of ocean, Hishammuddin said. The objects varied in size from
one meter to 23 meters (75 ft) in length, he said.
A dozen aircraft from Australia, the United States, New Zealand,
China, Japan and South Korea were once more scouring the seas some
2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth in the hunt for wreckage
on Wednesday, after bad weather the previous day forced the
suspension of the search.
"The crash zone is as close to nowhere as it's possible to be but
it's closer to Australia than anywhere else," Australian Prime
Minister Tony Abbott said, before leading the country's parliament
in a moment's silence.
"A considerable amount of debris has been sighted in the area where
the flight was last recorded. Bad weather and inaccessibility has so
far prevented any of it from being recovered. But we are confident
that it will be."
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak this week confirmed Flight
MH370, which vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had
crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
Citing satellite-data analysis by British company Inmarsat, he said
there was no doubt the Boeing 777 came down in one of the most
remote places on Earth — an implicit admission that everyone on
board had died.
Recovery of wreckage could unlock clues about why and how the plane
had diverted so far off course in one of aviation's most puzzling
mysteries. Theories range from a hijacking to sabotage or a possible
suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out
Australia, China and France have all released satellite images over
the past week showing possible debris in the same general area as
the latest sighting, but no confirmed wreckage has been located.
PASSENGER RELATIVES DISTRAUGHT
An Australian navy ship returned to the area after being driven away
by gale force winds and 20-metre (66 ft) waves on Tuesday, while a
Chinese icebreaker and three Chinese navy vessels were now in the
Two Chinese ships were looking for a two-meter floating object
spotted earlier in the day by an aircraft, China's state news agency
The United States has sent an undersea Navy drone and a high-tech
black box detector which will be fitted to an Australian Defense
vessel due in Perth in the coming days.
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The so-called black boxes — the cockpit voice recorder and flight
data recorder — record what happens during flight, but time is
running out to pick up locator beacons that stop about a month after
a crash due to limited battery life.
Malaysia said on Tuesday that
the U.S. "Towed Pinger Locator" would not arrive in the search area
until April 5, which would give it only a few days to find the black
box before the beacon battery would be expected to run out.
The prolonged and so far fruitless search and investigation have
taken a toll, with dozens of distraught relatives of Chinese
passengers clashing with police in Beijing on Tuesday, accusing
Malaysia of "delays and deception".
Malaysia's confused initial response to the plane's disappearance
and a perception of poor communications have enraged many relatives
of the more than 150 Chinese passengers and have strained ties
between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur.
Chinese special envoy, Zhang Yesui, met Malaysia's Najib on
Wednesday and called for "unremitting efforts" to find the plane,
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour
after taking off and investigators believe someone on the flight may
have shut off the plane's communications systems.
Partial military radar tracking showed it turning west and
recrossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a
The air crash investigation is shaping up as one of the most costly
and difficult ever. Normally, an official investigation can only
begin once a crash site has been identified. That would give
Malaysia power to coordinate and sift evidence.
A government source told Reuters that Malaysia would lead the
investigation, but hoped other countries, especially Australia,
would play a major role.
(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Joseph Campbell in
Beijing, Stuart Grudgings, Michael Martina, Siva Govindasamy and A.
Ananthalakshmi in Kuala Lumpur; Phil Stewart and David Brunnstrom in
Washington; editing by Dean Yates)
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