New imagery on potential plane debris passed on to Malaysia

PETALING JAYA - French authorities have given new satellite imaging to Malaysia showing potential objects near the southern corridor search area.

This is the third potential sighting via satellite. Australia was the first to detect objects in the area followed by China.

Australian authorities, however, reported no new sightings related to MH370 as of yesterday afternoon.

There was no press conference to provide updates yesterday but the Transport Ministry issued a statement confirming that it received the new French satellite data.

"We immediately relayed these imagery to the Australian rescue coordination centre," the statement read.

There were no details about the size of the potential objects.

However, AP quoted a Malaysian official as saying the French imagery was captured on Friday using radar-echoing techniques, and was about 930km north of where the Chinese and Australian satellites spotted debris.

The official said one of the objects was estimated to be about the same size as an object captured by the Chinese satellite that appeared to be 22m by 13m.

However, the official said the French satellite imagery was fuzzy and very unclear, making it difficult to determine the exact dimensions.

The latest imagery was sent to Australia, which is coordinating the search about 2,500km southwest of Perth, the statement said.

Andrea Hayward-Maher, a spokesman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), confirmed that Australia had received the imagery, but had no further details.

Yesterday, planes and a ship were scrambling looking for a pallet and other debris spotted by a search plane to determine whether they were from the missing jet.

Wooden pallets are commonly used in shipping, but can also be used in cargo containers on planes.

Mike Barton, chief of the AMSA's rescue coordination centre, told reporters in Canberra that the wooden pallet, which was spotted on Saturday, was surrounded by several other objects, including what appeared to be strapping belts of different colours.

A New Zealand P3 Orion military plane was then sent to find them but failed, he said.

An Australian navy ship was also involved in the search. AMSA said the aircraft that spotted the pallet was unable to take photos of it.

"We went to some of the expert airlines and the use of wooden pallets is quite common in the industry," Barton said. "They're usually packed into another container, which is loaded in the belly of the aircraft. ... It's a possible lead, but we will need to be very certain that this is a pallet because pallets are used in the shipping industry as well."

Sam Cardwell, a spokesman for AMSA, said the agency had requested a cargo manifest from Malaysia Airlines.

When Brazilian searchers in 2009 were looking for debris from Air France Flight 447 after it mysteriously plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, the first thing they found was a wooden pallet.