Flight 370: Satellites spot 300 objects

A Naval Flight Officer assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16, monitors his workstation on a P-8A Poseidon during search and rescue operations for the missing aircraft. REUTERS/US Navy
A Naval Flight Officer assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16, monitors his workstation on a P-8A Poseidon during search and rescue operations for the missing aircraft. REUTERS/US Navy
Another 300 objects have been spotted in new satellite images from the Flight 370 search zone released late last night, just hours after the son of the pilot spoke out in defence of his father following speculation he had seized control of the jet on a suicide mission.

Authorities said the items had been detected by Thailand's space agency and were about 2700km southwest of Perth and about 200km away from the area where a French satellite had spotted 122 floating objects early this week.

The new objects ranged from 2m to 15m in size, officials said, but it was unclear whether they belong to the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft.

The space agency's executive director, Anond Snidvongs, said: "We cannot - dare not - confirm they are debris from the plane."

The latest information came after Ahmad Seth Zaharie, 26, said he did not believe his father, long-time pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had deliberately taken the plane down.

"I've read everything online. But I've ignored all the speculation. We may not be as close, as he travels so much, but I understand him," he told the New Straits Times.

On Tuesday, the Herald carried an interview with a friend of Captain Zaharie who said he believed the pilot was in "no state of mind" to be flying an aircraft because of personal issues he was going through.

Ahmad Seth Zaharie - the youngest of the captain's three children - said his family had not yet accepted that the plane had crashed, killing all 239 people on board.

"Now, we are just waiting for the right confirmation. I will believe it when I see the proof in front of my eyes," he said.

Meanwhile, crews looking for Flight MH370 were forced out of the search area yesterday by bad weather just as the satellite images showing hundreds of scattered objects gave fresh hope that the hunt for the aircraft may be over.

Heavy rain, strong winds and low clouds meant the conditions were too dangerous for aircraft and ships to be in the area. The choppy conditions - which also affected search missions earlier this week - reduced visibility significantly.

A total of 11 planes and five ships had initially planned to scour the area.

Earlier, the Royal NZ Air Force team involved in the searching were said to be encouraged by the reports of new objects being found.

Air Commodore Mike Yardley told Radio NZ yesterday: "If any of the spirits were flagging, this will be a great boost to that and renew everyone's interest."

New crew on mission 'very keen' to play their part

The New Zealand Orion aircraft being used to find debris of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is world-class, and the new crew on the mission are eager to start their work, according to their commanding officer.

Wing Commander Rob Shearer, who leads the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Airborne Surveillance and Reconnaissance Force, Squadron Five, said the 12 crew leaving tomorrow were keen to join the search.

Wing Commander Shearer told a media briefing at Whenuapai Air Base yesterday that the crew, who left at 2pm, will start their search missions today in the Orion P-3K2 equipped with world-class technology. A radar, camera, and viewing decks on board the aircraft have been recently upgraded and are state of the art.

"This is a great opportunity to go out there and prove what we do," Mr Shearer said.

"We are very, very keen to help."

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