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Ships and aircraft search for possible Malaysia Airlines debris zone

Crews have been sweeping the remote southern Indian Ocean near to an area in which 122 potential objects were detected by a French satellite. The urgency in the search for MH370 has been heightened by poor weather.

Search planes and ships were racing to beat bad weather on Thursday, searching a cumulative 78,000 square kilometers for the possible wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The Malaysian government said

imagery taken by a French satellite in recent days showed "122 potential objects"

in the remote southern Indian Ocean, some 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, Australia.

The discovery of the objects, ranging in length from as much as 75 feet (22.9 meters) to as small as 3 feet, was described as "the most credible lead that we have" by one unnamed Malaysian official speaking to the AP news agency.

However, Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has warned that it is not possible to determine whether the objects are from the flight.

In all 11 planes - six military and five civilian - are scouring the search area in a race against time, with weather forecast to worsen. The urgency has been made greater by the fact that "pings" sent out by black box recorders carrying vital clues about what happened could be weakening as batteries run out.

Four Chinese vessels and an Australian Navy ship also combed the search area on Wednesday, without success. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority confirmed that the area in which the satellite spotted the objects was within the search area.

Forecasters warned that the weather was likely to deteriorate on Thursday, after a brief period of cloud-thinning in the area.

The US Navy on Wednesday deployed a Towed Pinger Locator, which can be pulled behind vessels to detect signals, as well as an unmanned underwater vehicle to Perth.

rc/jm (AFP, AP, dpa,Reuters)

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