KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — New satellite images taken in recent days show more than 100 objects floating in the Indian Ocean that may have come from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Wednesday.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — New satellite images taken in recent days show more than 100 objects floating in the Indian Ocean that may have come from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Wednesday.


The images, which Hishammuddin called the "most credible" lead so far in the search for the vanished Boeing 777 airliner, revealed items in the water nearly 1,600 miles from Perth, Australia. The images, taken on Sunday, were provided by France’s Airbus Defence and Space company.


France gave Malaysian authorities the new information Tuesday, and an analysis by Malaysia’s remote sensing agency identified 122 objects, some as long as 75 feet. The Malaysian government said it has since shared the information with the Australian authorities leading the search in the southern Indian Ocean.


"We cannot tell whether the potential objects are from MH370," Hishammuddin said. "Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation."


The images mark the fourth set of data from satellites showing objects that may have come from the plane drifting in the remote waters of the Indian Ocean.


"The floating debris combined with the satellite data are a powerful combination," said Dave Gallo, who searched the ocean bottom for the black box of an Air France flight that went down in 2009. "That gives them the center of the haystack. Track record shows that an aircraft will be very close to that last known position."


A new surge of planes and ships arrived to assist in the growing hunt for the missing aircraft, which local government officials say went down in the southern Indian Ocean with 239 people on board on March 8, far off its planned flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.


Low-flying planes spotted potential debris as recently as two days ago, but the search had to be put on hold Tuesday because of bad weather. The hunt resumed Wednesday, but forecasters expect conditions to deteriorate again later Thursday.


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday that searchers have been able to see a "considerable" number of objects.


"Bad weather and inaccessibility has so far prevented any of it being recovered, but we are confident that some will be," he said.


Aircraft and ships from six countries — Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, China and South Korea — tried to cover a nearly 50,000-square-mile area on Wednesday. The hurdles remain daunting. The area is a four-hour flight from Perth, the base of the Australian-led search. Because of fuel constraints, planes have only two to four hours to look before having to turn back.


A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon and six other planes were flying in the area Wednesday, with four more on the way, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. After a number of days when only the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Success was available to follow up on any sightings in the sprawling area, four Chinese ships have arrived to join the hunt.


The sheer challenge of this stage in the search was apparent Wednesday. Observers saw three objects in the area late in the day — two items that were likely rope, plus a blue object. When the planes flew overhead again to take a look, they could not relocate the objects.


In addition, the search area Wednesday included the location where satellites picked up signs of 122 objects. Aside from the three objects spotted briefly, there were no other sightings of debris.


"The P-8 sees non-wreckage debris or other objects in the water on every flight," said Cmdr. William J. Marks, spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet. "These have included trash, seaweed and even dolphins. When we report no debris was seen, we are specifically referring to debris associated with aircraft wreckage."


Determining that debris comes from the missing flight is just the first step, Gallo said. In addition to leading the team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that found the Air France black box in the Atlantic, he took part in mapping the ocean floor near the current search area. He said any plane debris could have drifted 10 to 100 miles from the ocean floor where the black box sits.


"It depends on the speed and direction of the winds and the currents. Sometimes they operate against each other, sometimes with each other and sometimes at angles to each other," Gallo said. "It’s a complicated set of issues."


The underwater terrain there is known as the Southeast Indian Ridge, a portion of a mountain chain known as the Mid-Ocean Ridge.


"It’s a 50,000-mile-long mountain range that wraps around the earth like the seams of a baseball," Gallo said.


He said the ocean bottom was rolling mountains, more like the Appalachians than the Rockies, with depths from 1.5 to 2.5 miles.


"The bigger obstacle [to the search] is the sea water above it," he said, recalling days when their research vessel plowed into it, making no more than a mile per hour. "You expect to have horrible days more than anything else, just because the winds there are typically howling and the currents are always very strong."


The U.S. Navy dispatched more equipment to Australia this week. If plane debris is found and drift calculations sharply narrow the search area to a few dozen miles, the additional equipment can be put to use.