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French satellites spot possible MH370 debris

Planes and a ship scrambled to find pallet and other possible debris of Malaysia plane in remote part of Indian Ocean.

Last updated: 23 Mar 2014 18:34
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French satellites have spotted "potential objects" in the southern Indian Ocean, where a search is going on for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, the Malaysian government announced.

"This morning, Malaysia received new satellite images from the French authorities," Malaysia's transport ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

"Malaysia immediately relayed these images to the Australian rescue co-ordination centre."

A still image taken from video on March 22, 2014 shows an image of an object spotted in the southern Indian Ocean.

The source said the French image was captured Friday and was about 930-km north from where the Chinese and Australian objects were seen.

The official, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said one of the objects was estimated to be about the same size as an object captured Tuesday by the Chinese satellite that appeared to be 22 meters by 13 meters.

The latest information was announced as planes and a ship scrambled to find a pallet and other debris in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean to determine whether the objects were from the jet that went missing for more than two weeks now.

Earlier on Sunday as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there are credible leads in the case.

"Yesterday, one of our civilian search aircraft got visuals on a number of objects in a fairly small area in the overall Australian search zone," Abbott said.

The pallet was spotted by a search plane on Saturday, but has not been closely examined. Wooden pallets are commonly used in shipping, but can also be used on planes.

It is the latest in a series of clues experts and searchers are trying to run down to solve the mystery of what happened to Flight 370 when it disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.

Mike Barton, chief of Australian Maritime Safety Authority's rescue coordination center, told reporters in Canberra, Australia, that the wooden pallet spotted by a civilian search aircraft was surrounded by several other nondescript objects, including what appeared to be strapping belts of different colors and lengths.

It was not immediately known if any pallets were used on Flight 370.

Several small objects were identified 2,500km off Australia's west coast, according to a statement released by the country's Maritime Safety Authority.

Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas, reporting from Perth in western Australia, said Abbot's latest announcement marks a significant progress in the search effort.

"You would think that he would he would be fairly confident that there was a positive move in the search," he said.

Sunday's search has been split into two areas, covering 59,000sq/km of ocean thousands of kilometres off the coast of Perth, the authority said.

Prayers for passengers

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put a message on his Twitter account Sunday asking those in churches around the country to offer a "prayer please" for the passengers and crew on Fight 370.

More than 300 Malaysian cycling enthusiasts rode their bikes to the Kuala Lumpur airport to remember the people onboard the jet. The cyclists decorated the bikes with small Malaysian flags and stickers that read "Pray for
MH370."

Beijing and Tokyo both sent two aircraft to join the six already involved in the operation backed by the US and New Zealand.

Mistrust hampers search for Malaysian plane

A total of 20 emergency service volunteers from western Australia will act as observers during Sunday's mission.

In Beijing, relatives of Chinese passengers, who are waiting for news about their missing plane, accused Malaysian officials of being "deceitful", adding that the meetings were a "waste of time," Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reported.

Relatives said they feel Malaysian officials know more than they are saying, our correspondent added.

The Malaysian Airlines plane went missing three weeks ago.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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