Fresh satellite images taken during the search for a missing passenger jet showed 122 "potential objects" in one area of the Indian Ocean, Malaysia said Wednesday.The images from Airbus Defence and Space in France showed the objects in a 400-square-kilometre area of the ocean, said Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
Hishammuddin told the media it was not possible to say whether the objects came from the Boeing 777 aircraft, which crashed with 239 people on board. "Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation," he said.
Earlier satellite data from Australia, China and France had also shown floating objects possibly related to MH370, but nothing has so far been retrieved despite a huge multinational search. Hishammuddin said the Airbus images were taken on Sunday, received Tuesday, and immediately forwarded to the Australian agency coordinating the search.
He said the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency had identified the 122 "potential objects" after analysing the satellite images. Some were a metre in length while others were as long as 23 metres. "Some of the objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials," the minister said.
They were located about 2,557 kilometres from Perth. The search effort has focused on waters far to the southwest of Australia. Ships and planes resumed the search for the plane in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, after it was halted due to bad weather. Search operations in the northern corridor and the northern part of the southern corridor have been called off. Malaysia said it has informed the relevant countries of the change.
Hishammudin also said an international working group has been set up to refine satellite data, and determine the final position of MH370. With regard to international criticism on Malaysia’s handling of the crisis, Hishammudin said: "I think history will judge us well." Hishammuddin had been asked how Malaysia would be able to repair its image and "bruising" treatment by the international media.
"'Bruising,' I think is a bit too harsh because this is unprecedented," he said. Anybody who has gone through this, what we have gone through... has indicated to me that we have done quite an admirable job."
Hishammudin added that Malaysia Airlines is taking the lead in contacting the families of those on board MH370 and will conduct their own media conference on Thursday. In addition, the minister said he met China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui.
According to Hishammudin, Zhang conveyed China’s commitment to continue and intensify the search operation in any way possible, and to deploy any assets that may be required. The jet was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March when it went missing, triggering an international search effort. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday announced that the plane had ended its flight in the Indian Ocean.