MH370: French satellite images point to possible debris
Potential debris from flight MH370 has been spotted from a French satellite sparking renewed hope the mystery of the plane's disappearance could be solved. Nine news.PT1M9S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35ccu 620 349 March 24, 2014
The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will be expanded north after a French satellite picked up objects in the Indian Ocean, 850 kilometres from the present search area.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the French sighting could open up a new avenue of inquiry in the search.
''The French sighting is, I guess, a piece of new material because that's in a completely different location. That's about 850 kilometres north of our current search area so we need to check that out as well.
Graphic: Jamie Brown
"That's not in the area that had been identified as the most likely place where the aircraft may have entered the sea. But having said all that we've got to check out all the options."
Mr Truss also warned that the weather is expected to deteriorate on Monday which will make it difficult for civilian spotters trying to observe objects from the search aircraft. Two Chinese air force planes will also join the search.
The debris in the earlier Australian image was about 2500 km southwest of Perth and the Chinese sighting, captured two days later, was about 120 km "south by west" of that.
Indian Ocean search: Malaysia has reportedly handed over new satellite images from the French to Australia as the country heading the operation in the southern corridor. Photo: AP
In a statement Malaysia's transport ministry said the images from the three countries "show potential objects, which may be related to MH370" in what they have identified as a southern search area that includes the vast expanses of the southern Indian Ocean.
"All this information has been forwarded to Australia, as the lead country in the area of concern," the statement said.
Malaysia late on Sunday sent the images to Australia's rescue co-ordination centre in Canberra.
The French Foreign Ministry said radar echoes from a satellite put the new debris finding about 2300 km from Perth, without giving a direction or a date.
Since the plane disappeared they have released only scant information, angering relatives and friend of those on board.
Malaysian officials spent six hours with relatives of Chinese passengers in Beijing on Sunday.
"The government wishes to reiterate its commitment and continued engagement with the relatives of those on board MH370," the Malaysian government said in a statement.
Malaysia Airlines has promised to fly relatives of the passengers to Perth if debris from the plane is found in the Indian Ocean.
Perth would become the staging port for the recovery operation.
Malaysian officials said a number of search flights due to depart Kuala Lumpur Sunday were cancelled because of Cyclone Gillian that has formed in the Indian Ocean.
But they said two Indian search aircraft joined the search.
Malaysian authorities cancelled a daily media briefing while search operations headquarters was moved from a hotel near Kuala Lumpur airport to the city centre.
Co-ordinators of a 26-country search for the plane from Central Asia to the far southern reaches of the Indian Ocean are now focusing on how to scour the depths of the Indian Ocean if the objects are confirmed to be from MH370.
The ocean is as deep as 7000 metres in some places.
The Australian Defence vessel Ocean Shield, which has a sub-sea remotely operated vehicle, is en-route to the area.
NASA said it would use high-resolution cameras aboard satellites and the International Space Station to look for possible crash sites in the Indian Ocean. The US space agency is also mining archived images collected by instruments on its Terra and Aqua environmental satellites, said NASA spokesman Allard Beutel.
"Our satellites and space-based cameras are designed for long-term scientific data gathering and Earth observation. They're really not meant to look for a missing aircraft, and obviously NASA isn't a lead agency in this effort. But we're trying to support the search, if possible," Mr Beutel said.
with Lisa Cox and Reuters