Missing Malaysian Flight MH370: Thai satellite images show 'up to 300' objects in southern Indian Ocean search area
Thailand's space agency said find had been forward on to Malaysian authorities hunting for wreckage of downed Boeing 777
A Thai satellite has captured images showing up to 300 objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean, within the area where recovery teams are searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The executive director of Thailand's space agency, Anond Snidvongs, said the country's Earth Observation Satellite had taken the images and that the information had been forwarded to the Malaysian authorities.
He said the objects were of various sizes, some up to around 16m (52ft) long, and appeared just 200km (125miles) from where a French satellite images released yesterday showed 122 objects floating near the stretch of water where the Boeing 777 is believed to have come down.
Thai officials said the images were taken on Monday, took two days to process and were given to the authorities in Malaysia yesterday.
The new find came after senior officials described the French satellite images as "the most credible lead we have".
The appearance of so-called "debris fields" in the area identified as where the plane ended its journey is consistent with what would happen if a jet struck the sea, experts have said, but officials in Australia were struggling today to investigate further.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said that after a brief, fruitless period at the search site all 11 aircraft involved had been ordered back to base in Perth due to bad weather, which is expected to continue for 24 hours. The eight ships on site will continue the hunt, but can only cover a fraction of the distances involved.
And any hopes raised by the growing evidence of satellite imagery were tempered today by reports that, even if the missing jet's so-called "black boxes" are found, we may never know what happened in the cockpit in the minutes and hours after ground control teams lost contact with the pilots.
Experts have said that the recording devices can only keep track of around two hours-worth of data, before looping around and overwriting previous information.
This means that even if the black boxes are recovered, they may only provide an insight into the moments before the plane crashed into the sea - presumably having run out of fuel.
David Barry, an aviation specialist at Cranfield University, told the Telegraph that while the flight data will have survived, "the bit we are interested in - where they lost contact with air traffic control - would have been overridden unless power to the recorder was lost".
Searching for the black boxes nonetheless remains the priority, and a US "pinger locator" device has arrived at the Australian operations headquarters in Perth to be attached to a Navy vessel.
Map released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) shows the planned search for 27 March It is expected to arrive at the search area itself on around 5 April, at which point it will only have a few days in which to work before the black boxes' batteries, and therefore its ability to send out an ultrasound locator beacon, die.
Malaysian officials said earlier this week that satellite data confirmed the plane crashed while on a course toward the southern Indian Ocean.
Today Malaysia Airlines ran a full-page public notice in a major newspaper, issuing a message to the relatives of those involved.
French satellite images showing locations of potential objects related to the search of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 "Our sincerest condolences go out to the loved ones of the 239 passengers, friends and colleagues. Words alone cannot express our enormous sorrow and pain," read the advertisement in the New Straits Times.
Malaysia has been criticized over its handling of one of the most perplexing mysteries in aviation history. Much of the most strident criticism has come from relatives of the Chinese passengers, some of whom expressed outrage that Malaysia essentially declared their loved ones dead without recovering a single piece of wreckage.
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China has dispatched a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, to deal with the crisis, and he was seen Thursday arriving at a hotel on the edge of Kuala Lumpur where Chinese relatives of the passengers were staying.
Meanwhile, a US-based law firm filed court documents that often precede a lawsuit on behalf of a relative of an Indonesian-born passenger. The filing in Chicago asked a judge to order Malaysia Airlines and Chicago-based Boeing Co. to turn over documents related to the possibility that "negligence" caused the Boeing 777 to crash, including any documentation about the chances of "fatal depressurization" in the cockpit.
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