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122 objects spotted in search for lost jet: Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur/Canberra, March 26 :

Malaysia announced Wednesday that 122 objects have been identified in new satellite imagery that might be connected to the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 now declared “lost”.

Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a press briefing that the latest satellite images were taken Sunday and provided Tuesday by France-based Airbus Defence and Space.

Based on the analysis done by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA), 122 potential objects were identified in an area of some 400 sq km, Xinhua reported citing the minister.

Some objects are one metre in length, while others are as long as 23 metres, the minister said, adding that some items appear to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials.

These newly identified objects were located approximately 2,557 km southwest from Perth, he said.

Australian authorities said the search for the lost jet continued Wednesday in the southern Indian Ocean.

Six countries – Australia, New Zealand, the US, Japan, China and South Korea – are participating in the search operation in the area 2,500 km southwest of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state.

“A total of seven military and five civil aircraft will be involved in today’s search activities,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in a statement. The search was suspended Tuesday due to adverse weather conditions.

While one Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft from China departed Perth around 8 a.m. for the search area, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion aircraft departed for the area around 9.10 a.m.

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion was scheduled to depart Perth around 11 a.m., a US Navy P8 Poseidon around 2 p.m., a Japanese P3 Orion around 3 p.m., a second RAAF P3 Orion around 4 p.m., and South Korean P3 Orion around 5 p.m.

“Two civil aircraft have now departed Perth for the search area. The remaining three civil aircraft will depart for the search area between 10 a.m. and midday,” the AMSA statement said.

A total of 34 State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers from Western Australia will be air observers on board the five civil aircraft.

The Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Success and China’s polar supply ship Xue Long are also in the search area.

Malaysia Airline flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.

The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing the same day. The 226 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

The plane lost contact along with its radar signal when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

The search area where the ill-fated passenger jet was assumed to have gone down is 2,500 km southwest of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state.

At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.

“Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth,” he added.

Malaysia Airlines, in a statement to the relatives of all those on board, stated: “We deeply regret that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived… we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.”

It, however, stated that the ongoing multinational search operation would continue, “as we seek answers to the questions which remain”.

(IANS)