French satellites have found what they believe could be a “debris field” made of parts of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Malaysian officials announced to day. The news arrives after inclement weather halted the search Tuesday.
Malaysia’s acting transportation minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced Wednesday that the field contained more than one hundred items of varying size, some of which appeared “bright, possibly indicating solid materials.” The news follows days of leads in an area about 1,500 miles west of Perth, Australia, and further away from any other land. Hishammuddin thanked the countries involved in the search for their “unprecedented levels of cooperation”– particularly Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as he is hosting the search teams in Perth.
The Associated Press reports that Malaysian officials called the debris field “the most credible lead we have” and released photos that show spots in the ocean– clearly objects of some sort. The Wall Street Journal notes that the French satellite footage is the fourth of its type in the area, other leads coming from British, Chinese, and Australian satellite imaging. Planes have been dispatched to the area to find them, and while they are the most concrete evidence of a crash Malaysian officials currently have, little is known until those objects are in the hands of investigators.
The lack of any conclusive evidence has led to rising tensions between Malaysia and relatives of passengers on Flight 370 in Beijing. Yesterday, Chinese authorities permitted a rare protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, as relatives stormed the area with large signs demanding answers. Malaysian officials had given the relatives of those on board a private meeting in which they explained, via Microsoft Powerpoint, all the evidence currently in their hands. According to the Associated Press, relatives left the presentation wanting to “pummel everyone” involved.
Relatives of passengers on the missing flight also arrived at another milestone yesterday: the first legal action against Malaysia Airlines and the plane’s manufacturer, Boeing. The father of a passenger on board filed a motion for discovery in Cook County, Illinois, seeking more information on who could be responsible for the crash–and who could be a defendant in his lawsuit.
Police have also not released any motive for which the plane might have found itself hours off course in remote waters, though the Telegraph reported yesterday that authorities are exploring the possibility that the plane may have been on a “suicide mission.”