KUALA LUMPUR - New satellite images from France have shown 122 objects possibly linked to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, said Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
"Yesterday, on 25 March, the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) received new satellite images from Airbus Defence and Space, which is based in France. The images were taken on 23 March.
"MRSA analysed the images and - in one area of the ocean measuring some 400 sq km - were able to identify 122 potential objects. Some objects were a metre in length; others were as much as 23m in length," Mr Hishammuddinhe told a daily press briefing on Wednesday.
He said some of the objects appeared to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials. The objects were located approximately 2,557km from Perth.
"It must be emphasised that we cannot tell whether the potential objects are from MH370.
"Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation. We have now had four separate satellite leads, from Australia, China and France, showing possible debris.
"It is now imperative that we link the debris to MH370. This will enable us to further reduce the search area, and locate more debris from the plane,'' he added.
Malaysia announced on Monday night that based on data analysis by UK firm Inmarsat, the last position of MH370 was in a remote area in the southern Indian Ocean. The plane disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew members on board.
Mr Hishammuddin said Malaysia continues to play a coordinating role in search efforts.
"Today the weather has improved, and twelve planes will travel to the search area - six in the East sector and six in the West,'' he said.
In response to questions regarding scathing Chinese criticisms against Malaysia's handling of the crisis, Mr Hishammuddin said: "History will judge us well."
"We have done an admirable job. Not many countries can get 26 countries to work together," he said.
The minister went on to appeal to Chinese families to understand that Malaysians also lost their loved ones in the tragedy.
He added that he has seen reactions from affected Australian families in the media, and was thankful that they were "very rational", and not blaming Malaysia for the unprecedented air travel crisis.
Based on new information provided by British satellite telecommunication firm Inmarsat, an international working group has been set up to refine the data to find out the exact last position of the plane in the southern Indian Ocean, Mr Hishammuddin said.
Head of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), Mr Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, added that the search is on for the plane's black box so that full investigations can be concluded as quickly as possible.