August 1, 2014
MH370: French satellite image also shows possible plane debris
French satellite images show "floating debris" in the southern Indian Ocean, Paris said today, which together with Chinese and Australian images of suspicious objects in the same wide area have focused the search for a missing Malaysian jetliner in remote seas off Australia.
The new lead came as the international search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 entered its third week, with still no confirmed trace of the Boeing 777 that vanished with 239 people on board.
"This morning, Malaysia received new satellite images from the French authorities showing potential objects in the vicinity of the southern corridor," the Malaysian Transport Ministry said in a statement.
"Malaysia immediately relayed these images to the Australian rescue co-ordination centre."
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had said there was "increasing hope" of a breakthrough in the hunt for the plane on the strength of Chinese and Australian images of possible large debris.
The French Foreign Ministry said radar echoes from a satellite put the new debris finding about 2,300 km (1,430 miles) from Perth, without giving a direction or a date.
The debris in the Australian image was about 2,500 km southwest of Perth and the Chinese sighting, captured two days later, was around 120 km (75 miles) "south by west" of that.
"These elements have immediately been passed on to the Malaysian authorities," the French ministry said in a statement. "France had decided to mobilise complementary satellite means to continue the search in the identified zone."
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens early on March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on a scheduled flight to Beijing.
An international force resumed its search efforts, zeroing in on two areas around where the earlier sightings were made in an effort to find the object identified by China and other small debris, including a wooden pallet, spotted by a search plane yesterday.
Nothing was found, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in a statement. The search area was covered in early sea fog, particularly in the western areas, but conditions improved during the day.
"The search will resume tomorrow," AMSA said. "Chinese military Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft and Japanese P-3C aircraft will join the search on Monday."
China said the object it had seen on the satellite image was 22 metres long (74ft) and 13 metres (43ft) wide, floating in some of the most inhospitable sea territory on Earth.
It could not easily be determined from the blurred images whether the objects were the same as those detected by Australia, but the Chinese photograph could depict a cluster of smaller objects, said a senior military officer from one of the 26 nations involved in the search for the plane.
The wing of a Boeing 777-200ER is approximately 27 metres long and 14 metres wide at its base, according to estimates derived from publicly available scale drawings. Its fuselage is 63.7 metres long by 6.2 metres wide.