Fresh Lead in Jet Search? 122 'Potential Objects'

They were spotted via satellite Sunday, but could just be sea junk

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 26, 2014 12:31 AM CDT | Updated Mar 26, 2014 7:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – The search for debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is facing a major obstacle in addition to bad weather: a sea full of garbage. The objects spotted in satellite images could be jet debris, but they could just as easily be some of the large quantities of the trash (think "ghost" fishing ships 50 feet long) found in even the most remote parts of the oceans, a marine debris specialist with the Ocean Conservancy tells the New York Times. This as a fourth set of satellite images—these from a French firm and revealed today by Malaysia’s defense minister—show 122 "potential objects," reports NBC News. More:

  • Weather conditions have improved today and the search has resumed with ships and planes from six countries—Australia, New Zealand, the US, Japan, China, and South Korea—now taking part, reports the BBC.
  • As for those 122 objects, they were captured via satellite Sunday and are located in a 154-square-mile patch of the southern Indian Ocean. Australia has been tasked with checking out the new lead, but it's unclear if that can happen before dark or will instead happen tomorrow, reports the New York Times.
  • "Some of the objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials," and measure as long as 75 feet, says Hishammuddin Hussein. He called the new images "the most credible lead that we have.”
  • CNN notes planes on the hunt for debris today did spot three objects, but none were clearly from a plane.
  • Charles Moore, an expert on marine debris, says that large amounts of debris from the Japanese tsunami in 2011 and even the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami are still floating around, much of it concentrated in ocean gyres. The search area is on the edge of one gyre and the storm that halted the search yesterday "could act as a highway, pushing the stuff in or out," Moore says.
  • Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that "the opening salvo" may have been fired "in what may become a barrage of litigation." A law firm hired by the father of passenger Januari Siregar has asked Malaysian Airline System and Boeing for 26 different kinds of information ranging from possible defects to the plane's cargo. "We believe that both defendants named are responsible for the disaster of Flight MH370," says a partner with the firm.

In this March 23, 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.
In this March 23, 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.   (AP Photo/ADF, James Whittle)
A ground controller guides a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion to rest after sunset upon its return from a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
A ground controller guides a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion to rest after sunset upon its return from a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.   (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)
An entire house adrift in the ocean after the 2011 Japan tsunami.
An entire house adrift in the ocean after the 2011 Japan tsunami.   (AP Photo/US Navy, Dylan McCord)
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