(PERTH, Australia) — New satellite images show a debris field of 122 objects floating in the Indian Ocean — potentially connected to doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, officials said at a press conference Wednesday.
Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the images were taken on Sunday, March 23, about 1,600 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia, and relayed by the France-based Airbus Defense and Space. Authorities received the images Tuesday.
Hishammuddin said the objects were seen close to where three other satellites previously detected objects.
The newly-spotted objects vary in size, with the largest about 75 feet in length, Hishammuddin said. Some objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid debris.
“This is another new lead that will help direct the search operation,” he said.
That search operation resumed in a remote area of the Indian Ocean on Wednesday after it was halted by bad weather the day before.
“Twelve aircraft and ships are searching. Black box recovery equipment is on its way to Australia and will be deployed to the search area by an Australian navy ship,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament on Wednesday.
In all, six countries are participating in the search — Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, China, and South Korea.
Abbott expressed hope that search crews will recover an object connected to the doomed Boeing 777, which was carrying 239 people when it went missing March 8.
“A considerable amount of debris has been sighted in the area where the flight was last recorded,” he said. “Bad weather and inaccessibility has so far prevented any of it being recovered. But we are confident some will be.”
Earlier this week, Malaysian officials announced that satellite data revealed Flight 370 “ended” in the south Indian Ocean.
In a message to victims’ families, Malaysia Airlines said it “deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived.”
“[W]e must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean,” the message continued.
Despite the new data, the search zone remains huge — about the size of Alaska.
“Australia will do all it can to recover what we can from the Southern Indian Ocean so that they can have the closure, and eventually the peace that comes with understanding more of what happened,” Abbott said.
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