News & Events

New Satellite Images Said to Be ‘Credible Lead’ in Malaysia Jet Hunt

Posted by: admin

Date Posted: 2014-03-27

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Satellite sightings of 122 objects floating southwest of Australia are “the most credible lead that we have” in the search for Flight 370, the Malaysian defense minister said Wednesday evening, adding that his country had asked Australia to try to recover the objects and see if they were debris from the missing jetliner.

The search for the Malaysia Airlines plane, focused now on a remote stretch of the southern Indian Ocean, resumed on Wednesday after a day’s suspension due to bad weather.

Eleven aircraft and five ships were scouring the target area on Thursday, officials said, hoping to locate some of the objects before the weather got worse again late in the day, as had been forecast.

The defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said the 122 objects were visible in satellite images forwarded by Airbus Defense and Space, the main European commercial satellite company. Malaysia passed the images to Australia, which is leading the search in the area.

In the satellite photos, which were taken on Sunday, the objects are visible through gaps in clouds over an area of 154 square miles, or 400 square kilometers, of ocean, Mr. Hishammuddin said. The largest was about 75 feet, or 23 meters, in length, and some were bright, he noted without elaboration. Metal objects that had recently fallen into the ocean might be reflective.

Airbus said that five of its Earth observation satellites — some equipped with high-resolution cameras, others with radar — were assisting in the search for Flight 370, and would do so as long as needed. Images and data from the satellites were being submitted to the Malaysian and Australian authorities for analysis, the company said.

The floating objects were about 1,589 miles, or 2,557 kilometers, southwest of Perth, the authorities said. If they are found to be from the missing plane, a Boeing 777 that took off March 8 bound for Beijing with 239 people aboard, the next steps would be to figure out how far and in which direction the debris might have drifted since the aircraft came down, and then to begin an undersea search, Mr. Hishammuddin said.