Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Satellite Spots 122 Objects in Malaysia Jet Search

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Satellite Spots 122 Objects in Malaysia Jet Search

Article excerpt

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia * A French satellite scanning the Indian Ocean for remnants of a missing jetliner found what may be a plane debris field containing 122 objects, a top Malaysian official said Wednesday, calling it "the most credible lead that we have."

Nineteen days into the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, the latest satellite images are the first to suggest that a debris field from the plane rather than just a few objects may be floating in the southern Indian Ocean, though no wreckage has been confirmed. Previously, an Australian satellite detected two large objects, and a Chinese satellite detected one.

All three finds were made in roughly the same area, far southwest of Australia, where a desperate, multinational hunt has been going on for days.

Clouds obscured the latest satellite images, but dozens of objects could be seen in the gaps, ranging in length from 3 feet to 76 feet. At a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said some of them "appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials."

The images were taken Sunday and relayed by French-based Airbus Defence and Space, a division of Europe's Airbus Group; its businesses include the operation of satellites and satellite communications. The company said in a statement that it had mobilized five observation satellites, including two that can produce very high-resolution images, to help locate the plane.

Various floating objects have been spotted in the area by planes over the last week, including on Wednesday, when the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said three more objects were seen. The authority said that two objects seen from a civil aircraft appeared to be rope, and that a New Zealand military plane spotted a blue object.

None of the objects was seen on a second pass, a frustrating incident that has been repeated several times in the hunt for Flight 370, missing since March 8 with 239 people aboard.

It remains uncertain whether any of the objects seen came from the plane; they could have come from a cargo ship or something else. …

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