A Royal Australia Air Force AP-3C Orion takes off from RAAF Base Pearce in Perth on March 26 to resume the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. / Rob Griffith, AP
BEIJING - The multinational hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 resumed Wednesday across a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean as Malaysia said satellite images have identified 122 new potential plane-related objects in the water.
Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia's acting transport minister, cautioned that the new satellite images supplied by France have not been linked to the jet missing since March 8, although they do represent a new lead.
He said the objects were seen close to where three other satellites previously detected objects and that taken together the sightings are "the most credible lead that we have." Hishammuddin said the objects ranged in length from one yard to 25 yards and that some appeared to be brightly colored, suggesting they may be made of solid materials.
A total of 12 planes and two ships from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were participating in the search, hoping to find even a single piece of the Malaysia Airlines jet that could offer tangible evidence of a crash.
Weather conditions improved after high winds, heavy seas and poor visibility forced a suspension of the search a day earlier.
In another aspect of the search, a highly sensitive U.S. Navy listening device designed to detect black box signals arrived in Australia Wednesday to join the search for the missing plane.
The Towed Pinger Locator -- TPL-25 -- will be towed behind a commercial ship at a speed of around three miles per hour and 1,000 feet off the ocean floor. Cmdr. Chris Budde said Tuesday in a statement that "if the wreck site is located, we can hear the black box pinger down to a depth of about 20,000 feet."
The TPL-25 -- one of two that the U.S. Navy has -- will be attached to an Australian vessel called the Ocean Shield.
Malaysia announced earlier this week that a mathematical analysis of the final known satellite signals from the plane had proved beyond doubt that the Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight had gone down in the sea, taking the lives of all 239 people on board.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that its engineering and aviation experts will soon leave Perth on an Australian navy vessel in an effort to identify any debris located in the search area. That development would mark the first time that air-crash investigation experts have taken part in the massive search operation.
On Tuesday, over 150 relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane defied police obstruction and staged an angry protest outside the Malaysian Embassy in China.
At the relatives' Beijing hotel, a larger group later clashed with the Malaysian ambassador to China, cursing and threatening him for his refusal to answer even basic questions, and his nation's failure to provide "truth" about flight MH370 that Chinese relatives believe Malaysia is concealing.
Over two weeks of anguish and frustration climaxed Monday night when Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said satellite analysis indicated the plane was lost in the southern Indian Ocean, with no survivors, although no wreckage has been identified.
Despite Monday's long-dreaded news, many families remained unconvinced and demand harder evidence before they abandon all hope. They turned their anger and emotion into action Tuesday, donning T-shirts that said "Pray for MH370," and holding up placards, printed overnight, that bore slogans such as "Give us back our relatives" and "You owe me the truth."
Onlookers in Beijing offered sympathy Tuesday.
"Their relatives are missing. None of us can understand, and no one can blame them for reacting like this," said Bess Zhao, 33, a teacher applying for a visa at the nearby U.S. Embassy. "There is no criminal to blame, but they have to have a target. It's quite natural. ... It's very hard to deal with that emotion.''
Contributing: Sunny Yang in Beijing; Associated Press
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