New satellite images provided by a French defense firm show 122 objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean, not far from other satellite sightings that could be related to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the Malaysian transport minister said Wednesday. The objects were scattered over 154 square miles (400 square kilometers), acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Bin Hussein said. Hishammuddin said he wasn’t sure if Australian authorities coordinating the search for the plane had been able to follow up Wednesday on the new satellite images, which came from Airbus Defence and Space. Searches resumed Wednesday after a one-day delay caused by poor weather. However, the last of 12 planes dispatched to the site returned to its base in Perth, Australia, late Wednesday without finding anything definitive, Australian officials said. Search aircraft did spot three objects, but none were obvious plane parts, the Australian Maritime Safety Agency said. The latest objects seen on satellite range from about 3 feet (1 meter) to about 75 feet (23 meters), Hishammuddin said. Some appear bright, indicating they may be solid, he said. The latest images appear to be the most significant discovery yet in the hunt for the missing plane, which vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard, said CNN aviation analyst Miles O’Brien.
“There’s a very good chance this could be the break we’ve been waiting for,” he said. Aviation safety analyst David Soucie agreed, saying he was particularly intrigued by the size of the 75-foot object. “It has potential to be a wing that’s floating,” he said. “So I’m really encouraged by it, I really am.” But satellites have captured images of objects before during the current search, and crews have yet to spot anything definitively linked to the airplane, and ships haven’t recovered anything of note. Officials have warned that objects spotted in the water may turn out to be flotsam from cargo ships, and that finding anything from the plane could still take a long time. “There’s always a possibility we might not actually find something next week or the week after,” Mark Binskin, vice chief of the Australian Defence Force, told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Tuesday. “I think eventually, something will come to light, but it’s going to take time.” Seven military reconnaissance planes — from Australia, China, New Zealand, the United States, Japan and South Korea — and five civil aircraft are combing the vast search area, which covers 469,407 square nautical miles. Five ships, one from Australia and four from China, also are in the search zone, Australian authorities said. More