SYDNEY/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Search aircraft and ships are investigating two objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia that could be debris from a Malaysian jetliner missing for 12 days with 239 people on board, officials said on Thursday.
Australian officials said the objects were spotted by satellite four days ago in one of the remotest parts of the globe, around 2,500 km (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth in the vast oceans between Australia, southern Africa and Antarctica.
The larger of the objects measured up to 24 metres (79 ft), long and appeared to be floating on water several thousand metres deep, they said. The second object was about 5 metres (16 feet) long.
Officials cautioned it could take several days to confirm if they were parts of the missing plane.
“It’s credible enough to divert the research to this area on the basis it provides a promising lead to what might be wreckage from the debris field,” Royal Australian Air Force Air Commodore John McGarry told a news conference in Canberra.
Objects about 2,500 km southwest of Perth
No confirmed wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been found since it vanished from air traffic control screens off Malaysia’s east coast early on March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.
“I can confirm we have a new lead,” Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur, where the investigation into the missing airliner is based.
Another official in Malaysia said investigators were “hopeful but cautious” about the Australian discovery.
The fate of Flight MH370 has been baffling aviation experts for nearly two weeks.
Investigators believe that someone with detailed knowledge of both the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial aviation navigation switched off the plane’s communications systems before diverting it thousands of miles off its scheduled course.