Two objects possibly from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been sighted in the southern Indian Ocean, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday, sparking new hopes of a breakthrough in the search for the missing jet.
Despite poor weather, aircraft and ships combed the remote waters off Australia in pursuit of the objects – to no avail. The search was called off as the day drew to a close, Australian rescue officials said, but it is scheduled to resume Friday morning.
The search, which involved four planes, focused on a section of ocean about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of the city of Perth, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement, covering an area of around 23,000 square kilometers (8,800 square miles).
Earlier, Abbott told parliament that "new and credible information" concerning Flight MH370 had come to light nearly two weeks after the plane vanished.
He said an Australian air force Orion had already been diverted to look into the objects with three more surveillance planes to follow.
The largest object is 24 metres (79 feet) long, John Young of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority [AMSA] told reporters on Thursday.
"They are objects of a reasonable size and probably awash with water moving up and down over the surface," Young, general manager of the emergency response division of AMSA, said.
Abbott said the objects were identified "following specialist analysis of satellite imagery".
Caution against premature conclusions
Abbot said he had already spoken with his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak, and cautioned against drawing any premature conclusions.
"We must keep in mind the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370," he said.
Young also cautioned against high expectations over the sightings. "We have been in this business of doing search and rescue and using sat images before and they do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, so we will hold our views on that until they are sighted close-up," he said.
Authorities in Kuala Lumpur on Monday asked Canberra to take responsibility for the "southern vector" of the operation to locate the Boeing 777, which disappeared on March 8 en route to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
The Malaysian government believes the jet was deliberately diverted and flew for several hours after leaving its scheduled flight path – either north towards Central Asia, or towards the southern Indian Ocean.
Where is MH370?
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-20