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MH370: Satellite images are "credible", biggest debris 24m, say Australian authorities

Published on Mar 20, 2014 12:48 PM

CANBERRA - The satellite images that have been spotted near Australia are "credible", with the biggest debris about 24 metres, say Australian authorities as the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane enters its second week.

The imagery is credible enough to divert resources to this part of the Southern Indian Ocean, said authorities at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is co-ordinating the search for the missing plane, said the images were spotted by satellite about 2,500 km south-west of Perth.

A second, smaller object was also spotted.

"The objects are relatively indistinct. The indication to me is of objects that are of a reasonable size and probably awash with water and bobbing up and down over the surface," said Australian Maritime Safety Authority official John Young.

"The largest... was assessed as being 24 metres. There is another one that is smaller than that."

He reiterated that the imagery is not that precise to pinpoint if it was from the plane.

All resources are now devoted to search in this area and "this is the best lead we have", he said.

Mr Young said the rescue coordination centre got an expert assessment of commercial satellite imagery on Thursday. "They may not be related to the aircraft," he cautioned.

He said the assessment of these images was provided by the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation "as a possible indication of debris south of the search area that has been the focus of the search operation".

The imagery is in the vicinity of the search area defined and searched in the past two days.

Four Australian aircraft have been deployed to the area where the possible debris has been spotted and the first aircraft should be on the scene now. A further three aircraft will arrive later Thursday, including a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion and United States Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft.

A merchant ship that responded to a shipping broadcast issued by RCC Australia on Monday is expected to arrive in the area about 6pm.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is being helped by the Australian Defence Force, the New Zealand Air Force and the United States Navy.

An Australian C-130 Hercules aircraft has been tasked to drop datum marker buoys. These provide information about water movement to help in drift modelling. They will provide an ongoing reference point if the task of relocating the objects becomes protracted. While the weather is moderate, poor visibility may hamper further search.