Update as of 7:26 a.m. EDT: New satellite images, taken on March 23, have shown 122 objects that could potentially belong to Flight MH370, Malaysia Airlines announced Wednesday, adding that the objects were found in a 400-square-kilometer area of the southern Indian Ocean, which has been the focus of the search for the missing plane for the past few days.
The latest satellite images, which come from France-based Airbus Defence and Space, place the objects in an area nearly 1,600 miles off the coast of Perth in southwestern Australia.
"We have now had four separate satellite leads, from Australia, China and France, showing possible debris. It is now imperative that we link the debris to MH370," a statement from the airline said Wednesday, adding: "This will enable us to further reduce the search area, and locate more debris from the plane."
Even as the search picked up pace in the southern Indian Ocean for Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board, legal action was initiated in the U.S. against The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) and Malaysia Airlines, media reports said Wednesday.
A legal firm, on behalf of the father of a 24-year-old Indonesian passenger of MH370 filed a petition for discovery that is considered a run-up to what could ultimately be a "multimillion-dollar litigation process," the Los Angeles Times reported, citing the law firm.
Gary Logan, a Las Vegas attorney who handles aviation accident lawsuits, told the Times: "The big target would be Boeing because the families could sue in U.S. courts," adding: "The U.S. is the place to be in terms of collecting damages."
According to Reuters, the petition was filed by Chicago-based Ribbeck Law in an Illinois Circuit Court in Cook County on behalf of Januari Siregar, whose son was on the flight. The petition is intended to acquire evidence of any defects in design or manufacturing, which could have possibly led to the disaster, Reuters reported, citing the law firm, because any legal action against the manufacturer would depend on finding the accident’s cause.
Struggling Malaysia Airlines could be forced to pay up to $176,000 for each passenger according to the Montreal Convention of 1999, which covers death and injury to passengers, the Times reported, adding that the total payout could add up to $40 million and potentially cripple the airline’s operations.
Meanwhile, search operations continued in the remote part of the southern Indian Ocean where the airline is suspected to have crashed after veering off course on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
According to Reuters, a dozen aircraft from six countries including Australia and the U.S., resumed the search for the plane Wednesday after bad weather had disrupted the effort Tuesday, adding that an Australian navy vessel had returned to the area after being forced away by fierce winds and nearly 70-foot waves.
A Chinese icebreaker and three Chinese navy vessels are also reportedly in the search area marked by rough seas and its remoteness, while equipment from the U.S., which can detect the presence of a plane’s black box, too arrived in Australia on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
"The crash zone is as close to nowhere as it's possible to be but it's closer to Australia than anywhere else," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said, according to Reuters, adding: "A considerable amount of debris has been sighted in the area where the flight was last recorded. Bad weather and inaccessibility has so far prevented any of it from being recovered. But we are confident that it will be."