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Satellite spots 122 objects in Malaysia jet search

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Malaysia’s Defense Minister and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows a printout of the latest satellite image of objects that might be from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, at Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Hishammuddin said the objects were seen close to where three other satellites previously detected objects. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

Malaysia’s Defense Minister and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows a printout of the latest satellite image of objects that might be from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, at Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Hishammuddin said the objects were seen close to where three other satellites previously detected objects. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

In this March 22, 2014 photo provided by the Australian Department of Defence (ADF), a lookout is stationed on bow of HMAS Success during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for signs of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The desperate, multinational hunt for Flight 370 resumed again Wednesday, March 26 across a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean after fierce winds and high waves that had forced a daylong halt eased considerably. (AP Photo/ADF, James Whittle) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

A Royal Australia Air Force AP-3C Orion takes off from RAAF Base Pearce in Perth, Australia to resume the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. As frustration was setting in, calmer seas returned Wednesday and the search for the remains of Flight 370 began anew in remote waters of the Indian Ocean off western Australia. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

In this March 23, 2014 photo provided by the Australian Department of Defence (ADF), an inflatable boat is launched from HMAS Success during the search in the southern Indian Ocean for signs of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The desperate, multinational hunt for Flight 370 resumed again Wednesday, March 26, across a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean after fierce winds and high waves that had forced a daylong halt eased considerably. (AP Photo/ADF, James Whittle) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Members of Japan’s Coast Guard refuel their plane after its arrival at Pearce air force base on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Bullsbrook, Australia. The desperate, multinational hunt for Flight 370 resumed Wednesday across a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean after fierce winds and high waves that had forced a daylong halt eased considerably. A total of 12 planes and five ships from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand 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. (AP Photo/Will Russell, Pool)

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PERTH, Australia (AP) — A French satellite scanning the Indian Ocean for remnants of a missing jetliner found a possible plane debris field containing 122 objects, a top Malaysian official said Wednesday, calling it “the most credible lead that we have.”

Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the objects were more than 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Australia, in the area where a desperate, multinational hunt has been going on since other satellites detected possible jet debris.

Clouds obscured the latest satellite images, but dozens of objects could be seen in the gaps, ranging in length from one meter (yard) to 23 meters (25 yards). Hishammuddin said some of them “appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials.”

The images were taken Sunday and relayed by French-based Airbus Defence and Space, a division of Europe’s Airbus Group; its businesses include the operation of satellites and satellite communications.

Various floating objects have been spotted by planes and satellites over the last week, including on Wednesday, when the Australian Maritime Safety Authority sent a tweet saying three more objects were seen. The authority 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 370, missing since March 8 with 239 people aboard. It remains uncertain whether any of the objects came from the plane; they could have come from a cargo ship or something else.

“If it is confirmed to be MH370, at least we can then we can move on to the next phase of deep sea surveillance search,” Hishammuddin said.

The search resumed Wednesday after fierce winds and high waves forced crews to take a break Tuesday. A total of 12 planes and five ships from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were participating in the search, hoping to find even a single piece of the jet that could offer tangible evidence of a crash and provide clues to find the rest of the wreckage.

Malaysia announced Monday 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 huge — an area estimated at 1.6 million square kilometers (622,000 square miles), about the size of Alaska.

“We’re throwing everything we have at this search,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Nine Network television on Wednesday.

“This is about the most inaccessible spot imaginable. It’s thousands of kilometers from anywhere,” he later told Seven Network television. He vowed that “we will do what we can to solve this riddle.”

In Beijing, some families held out a glimmer of hope their loved ones might somehow have survived. About two-thirds of the missing were Chinese, and their relatives have lashed out at Malaysia for essentially declaring their family members dead without any physical evidence of the plane’s remains. Many also believe Malaysia has not been transparent or swift in communicating information with them about the status of the search.

Wang

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