Australia announced it has located possible debris from a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner in the southern Indian Ocean.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament today that two objects were spotted in satellite imagery. He said an Orion surveillance aircraft and three other planes are headed to the location.
“I would like to inform the house that new and credible information has come to light in relation to the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search. Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified,” said Abbott.
Abbott warned against making presumptions about the nature of the objects, saying it will be extremely difficult to locate them. Officials plan to hold a news conference in Canberra later today to discuss the findings.
John Young, the general manager of Australia’s maritime authority, said the debris was found 2,500 kilometers southwest of the western city of Perth. Young said the floating objects are relatively indistinct in the satellite images, but that one appeared to be about 24 meters long.
He said the water in the area is believed to be several thousands meters deep. The weather is reported to be moderate, but Young said poor visibility could hamper efforts to locate the debris.
Malaysia Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a statement that he spoke with Abbott and other Australian officials about the development, but stressed that nothing has been confirmed.
There have been several false leads in the search since the plane disappeared March 8 without a trace with 239 people on board.
No other information on the location of the objects was immediately available.
Australia has been helping coordinate the southern section of the search for the Boeing 777. At least 26 nations have been hunting for the plane across a search area covering more than seven million square kilometers.
Investigators believe someone with advanced knowledge of aircraft deliberately diverted the plane either south toward the Indian Ocean or north toward Central Asia. They have refused to rule out any possibility, including terrorism, pilot suicide, or a mechanical malfunction.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday said the search is a top priority for the United States. He told a U.S. television station that he has put every available resource into the effort.
American and Malaysia investigators have been trying to analyze data from a flight simulator belonging to one of the plane’s pilots. Malaysian officials say some of the data has been deleted and is now in the process of being reconstructed.