UK & World News

  • 26 March 2014, 19:51

Missing Plane: '122 Objects' Spotted In Ocean

A satellite has spotted 122 objects in the southern Indian Ocean that are suspected to be debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

The items, measuring between one metre and 23 metres in length, were identified around 1,500 miles off the coast of Perth in western Australia.

Some appeared to be bright, according to Malaysian officials.

The possible debris was spotted in satellite images from French company Airbus taken on Sunday.

Malaysian investigators received the pictures on Tuesday and their analysis identified 122 "potential objects" in an area measuring around 155 square miles.

The findings were then forwarded to the Australian search command centre.

It is not currently known if the objects are connected to missing flight MH370, which disappeared more than two weeks ago on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

It is thought to have crashed on March 8 after flying thousands of miles off course.

There have now been four separate satellite leads - from Australia, China, and France - showing possible debris.

The search area has now been split into two - west and east - covering around 50,000 square miles, which is the size of England.

Twelve planes from Australia, the US, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea, were joined by five ships to scour the area.

Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference: "Our determination to find MH370 remains steadfast.

"As we have said all along, we will never give up trying to find the plane - in order to bring closure for the families, and to establish exactly what happened to MH370."

Of the latest satellite images, he said: "It must be emphasised that we cannot tell whether the potential objects are from MH370."

But he added they were "the most credible lead we have".

He also announced an international working group was being set up aimed at refining the data provided by the UK satellite firm Inmarsat, which helped narrow the search for MH370, with a view to more accurately pinpointing the final position of the plane.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: "We are throwing everything we have at this search. We are just going to keep on looking because we owe it to people to do everything we can to resolve this riddle.

"This is about the most inaccessible spot imaginable. It's thousands of kilometres from anywhere."

Australia's parliament stood in silence in remembrance of those aboard the lost airliner, who are presumed dead.

The race is now on to find the debris field, which could be used to back-track and help locate the point of impact if it turns out to be parts of the missing jet.

This will be critical to finding the black box data recorders, which could hold vital clues to what happened aboard the Boeing 777.

Theories range from hijacking to sabotage or a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.

The search, which had to be suspended on Tuesday due to bad weather, continues amid heavy criticism of Malaysia and the airline from the relatives of the people on the flight.

Meanwhile, a US law firm is planning to take legal action Boeing and Malaysia Airlines, claiming the plane crashed due to mechanical failure.

Chicago-based Ribbeck Law is set to seek millions of dollars in compensation for each passenger, believing an onboard fault rendered the crew unconscious and turned the aircraft into a "ghost plane" before it ran out of fuel.

Dozens of angry Chinese people have also clashed with police in a protest outside Malaysia's Embassy in Beijing. Most of the passengers were Chinese.

Mr Hishammuddin said he understood the feelings of those relatives, but pointed out Malaysian nationals had also been lost.

"I think history will judge us well," he said.

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