Australia investigates possible debris from Malaysian plane in Indian Ocean
Australia has sent an aircraft to investigate two objects spotted by satellite floating in the southern Indian Ocean that could be debris from a Malaysian jetliner missing with 239 people on board, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
Australia is investigating two objects seen on satellite images that could potentially be linked to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, officials say.
Planes and ships from Australia, New Zealand and the US were heading to the area 2,500km (1,550 miles) south-west of Perth to search for the objects.
The largest appeared to be 24m in size, maritime authorities said, but warned they could be unrelated to the plane.
Australia has been searching in the southern Indian Ocean for the aircraft.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament Thursday that two objects were spotted in satellite imagery. He said an Orion surveillance aircraft and three other planes have been sent to the area.
"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."
Abbott warned against making presumptions about the nature of the objects, saying it will be "extremely difficult" to locate them.
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 says that poor visibility could hamper efforts to locate the debris.
Malaysia Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he is coordinating with Abbott and other Australian officials about the development, but stressed that nothing has been confirmed.
"Every lead is a hope. And we have been very consistent – we want to verify, we want to corroborate, we are in the process now of verifying and corroborating the information. Let me meet the Australians now."
There have been several false leads in the search since the plane disappeared March 8 without a trace with 239 people on board.
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.
U.S. 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.
Source: VOA and agencies