New French satellite images show possible debris from a missing Malaysian airliner deep in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysia said on Sunday, adding to growing signs that the plane may have gone down in remote seas off Australia.
The latest lead comes as the international search for Malaysian 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.”
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The statement gave no details as to whether the objects were in the same vicinity as the other possible finds in a vast swathe of some of the most inhospitable sea territory on Earth. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there was “increasing hope” of a breakthrough in the hunt for the plane on the strength of Chinese and Australian satellite images of possible large debris from the plane in the southern search area.
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 on Sunday, zeroing in on two areas some 2,500 km southwest of Perth in an effort to find the object identified by China and other small debris including a wooden pallet spotted by a search plane on Saturday.
The Chinese discovery was announced by Malaysia’s acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein on Saturday. China said the object was 22 metres long and 13 metres wide, and spotted around 120 km “south by west” of potential debris reported by Australia off its west coast.
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.