A satellite scanning the Indian Ocean for remnants of a missing Malaysia Airlines jet has found a possible plane debris field containing 122 objects.
Malaysian officials have described the development as “the most credible lead that we have”.
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Wednesday that the objects were more than 2,500km southwest of Australia, near where other satellites previously detected objects. The objects ranged in length from one metre to 23 metres.
No confirmed debris from the Boeing 777 has yet been identified since it vanished from civilian radar screens on March 8 with 239 people on board.
“If it is confirmed to be MH370, at least we can then move on to the next phase of deep sea survelliance search,” Hishammuddin said.
He said the latest images were taken on Sunday and relayed by French-based Airbus Defence and Space, a division of Europe’s Airbus Group, whose businesses include the operation of satellites and satellite communications.
Various floating objects have been spotted by planes and satellites over the past week, including earlier on Wednesday, when the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) tweeted that another three objects had been spotted. AMSA said 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 were seen on a second pass, a frustration that has been repeated several times in the hunt for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. It remains uncertain whether the objects came from the plane or from something else, such as a cargo ship.
On Wednesday, the desperate, multinational hunt resumed across a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean after fierce winds and high waves that had forced a daylong halt eased.
A total of 12 planes and five ships from Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and the United States were participating in the search, hoping to find even a single piece of the Malaysia Airlines jet that could offer tangible evidence of a crash.
Malaysia announced earlier this week that a mathematical analysis of the final known satellite signals from the plane showed that it had crashed in the sea, killing everyone on board.
The new data greatly reduced the search zone, but it remains large – an area estimated at 1.6 million square kilometres, about the size of Alaska.