Australia Prime Minister: Objects Being Checked in Search for Plane

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(Photo Credit: MGN Online)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) — Authorities have spotted two objects in the Indian Ocean that are possibly related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The objects are indistinct but of “reasonable size” — the largest about 24 meters (78 feet) in length. They were bobbing up and down the surface of the water, said John Young, general manager of emergency response for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The images of the objects were captured by satellite and were being assessed by the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation

The images were taken in the vicinity of the search area that was scoured through in the last two days.

He cautioned the images may not be from the plane. There can be other debris out there, from ships, for example.

But, he added, “It is probably the best lead we have right now. But we need to get there, find them, see them, assess them to know whether it’s really meaningful or not.”

More intensive followup

Earlier Thursday, Australian Prime Minister John Abbot told the House of Representatives in Canberra, “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,” he said. “I can inform the House that a Royal Australian Air Force Orion has been diverted to attempt to locate the objects.”

Three other planes will carry out a “more intensive follow-up search,” he said.

Australian search teams have been at the forefront of the hunt for the missing plane in the remote southern Indian Ocean.

The announcement raises hopes of finding parts of the plane after a huge search that is now in its 13th day. Previous reports of debris found in the sea have not turned out to be related to the passenger jet, which vanished over Southeast Asia earlier this month.

But those reports came before the search area was massively expanded into two large arcs, one that heads northwest into Asia, the other southwest into the Indian Ocean.

“There have been so many false leads and so many starts and changes and then backtracking in the investigation,” Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said. “He (Abbott) wouldn’t have come forward and said if they weren’t fairly certain.”

‘Every lead is hope’

The Malaysian military is checking the new information from Australian authorities, a source close to the investigation told CNN.

“Verification might take some time. It is very far and it will take some time to locate and verify the objects,” the source said.

Malaysia’s Acting Transportation Secretary Hishammuddin Hussein told CNN he couldn’t disclose the information the Australians shared with Malaysia.

But he added, “Air and vessels are going there. You know how big the area is. Every lead is hope. We have been consistent with our process and we want to verify properly.”

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