Flight MH370: 122 new objects spotted - Malaysia minister

The images, given to the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency by Airbus, show several light-coloured objects The images, given to the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency by Airbus, show several light-coloured objects

A further 122 objects potentially from the missing Malaysian plane have been identified by satellite, the country's acting transport minister has said.

The images, taken on 23 March, showed objects up to 23m (75ft) in length, Hishammuddin Hussein said.

All aircraft taking part in Wednesday's search have now left the area without identifying debris from the plane.

Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board.

Jon Donnison reports from Fremantle Port in Perth, where much of the search operation is based

The objects were found in satellite images from a 400 sq km area around 2,557km (1588 miles) from Perth in Western Australia, Mr Hishammuddin said.

MH370 - Facts at a glance

  • 8 March - Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight carrying 239 people disappears
  • Plane's transponder, which gives out location data, was switched off as it left Malaysian airspace
  • Satellite 'pings' indicate plane was still flying seven hours after satellite contact was lost
  • 16 March - first satellite image of potential debris in southern Indian Ocean
  • 24 March - Based on new calculations, Malaysian PM says "beyond reasonable doubt" that plane crashed in southern Indian Ocean with no survivors

He said that it was not possible to tell whether the potential objects were from the missing aircraft, but called them "another new lead that will help direct the search operation".

The images were supplied by French-based Airbus Defence and Space and were given to the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency on 25 March, Mr Hishammuddin said.

The images were passed on to the Australian Rescue and Co-ordination Centre in Perth on Tuesday, he added.

The latest images are the fourth known collection of satellite pictures showing possible debris in the southern Indian Ocean. No pieces have yet been recovered in the search area, which has now been split into an east and west section.

Map showing the location of debris spotted on satellite images between 16 and 24 March

The transport minister said Malaysia Airlines was "now taking a lead in communicating with the families" and would be conducting its own press conferences.

Aircraft leave area

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa), co-ordinating the search, said that all aircraft involved had left the area without finding objects from the plane.

Analysis

Three hundred or so family members in Beijing packed into a meeting room for a meeting with a senior Malaysian delegation on Wednesday. They were almost matched in number by plain clothes and uniformed police officers, a sign of the close eye the Chinese authorities are keeping on the volatile and sensitive mood.

Over more than three hours the delegation was met with a barrage of questions, sometimes hostile, occasionally abusive. Their long, technical explanation of the analysis of the signal frequencies received from the plane, on which the conclusion that it headed into the Indian Ocean and crashed was based, was given pretty short shrift.

Many of the relatives say they still want to see physical proof before they accept that all on those on board are dead. There were also angry exchanges about the support they are being given.

The airline has said that around 700 caregivers are on hand, more than two per family, but the ambassador was forced to admit that that is a global figure. Here in Beijing, where most of the family members are based, only around 50 are currently available to provide the relatives with the emotional and practical support they so badly need.

It said seven military and five civilian planes had taken part and a total of six countries were now involved - Australia, New Zealand, the US, Japan, China and the South Korea.

The commander of the Chinese search operation, Dong Yan, said his ships were still looking for an object spotted by a plane earlier on Wednesday.

"The focus is on searching for floating objects, oil slicks, floating parts of the external layer of the plane and people that may have fallen into the water," he told Chinese television.

Australian authorities said on Wednesday that three more objects had earlier been spotted by a civilian aircraft involved in the search.

However, it could not be confirmed whether they were related to the missing aircraft.

The search for debris from the missing plane is taking place in one of the world's remotest regions.

If debris confirmed to be from the plane is found, the search area will narrow further.

However, experts say the aircraft's locator beacons, which will help guide ships to the wreckage, now have less than two weeks of battery life remaining.

Specialised equipment which can help locate the beacon is being flown to the search area.

Hishammuddin Hussein: "This is another new lead that will help direct the search operation"

The area is known as "the Roaring Forties" due to its notoriously strong winds

Daniel Tan says he will "not give up hope" that his brother is alive until a wreckage is found

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