Multiple sightings of objects possibly of lost jet reported

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 28, 2014 15:36 hrs

Canberra: A number of aircraft spotted various objects possibly of the lost Malaysian jet in a new search area in the southern Indian Ocean Friday but confirmation by ship can only happen Saturday, Australian authorities said at the conclusion of the day's search operation.

"Five aircraft spotted multiple objects of various colours during Friday's search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370," the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in its latest update Friday.

"Search activities have now concluded. A total of 256,000 sq km was searched," it added.

Photographs of the objects have been taken and these would be assessed overnight, according to the update.

"The objects cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships," it said.

While a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion reported sighting a number of objects white or light in colour and a fishing buoy, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion relocated the same objects and reported seeing two other blue or grey rectangular objects floating in the ocean.

"A second RAAF P3 Orion spotted various objects of various colours in a separate part of the search area about 546 km away," AMSA said.

"A total of ten planes were tasked by AMSA in today's search and all have now departed the search area."

It added that it has tasked Chinese Maritime Administration patrol ship, Haixun 01, which is in the search area and would be in a position to relocate the objects Saturday when the weather conditions are "expected to be reasonable".

Earlier Friday, the Australian authorities said that the search operation for the lost Malaysian airliner that was being conducted 2,500 km southwest of Perth was Friday shifted 1,100 km northeast following a "credible lead".

"The AMSA search for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been shifted to an area north following advice from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)," John Young, emergency response general manager of the AMSA, and Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the ATSB, said in a joint statement.

"An international air crash investigation team in Malaysia provided updated advice to the ATSB, which has examined the information and determined an area 1,100 km to the northeast of the existing search area is now the most credible lead as to where debris may be located," it added.

According to the statement, the new search area is approximately 319,000 sq km and is about 1,850 km west of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.

The Boeing 777-200ER was scheduled to land in Beijing the same day. The 226 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

The plane lost contact along with its radar signal when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City.

At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed flight MH370 "ended in the southern Indian Ocean".

"Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth," he added.

According to the AMSA-ATSB statement Friday, the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO) is re-tasking satellites to capture images of the new search area.

Six ships are relocating to the new search area including the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Success and five Chinese ships.

Meanwhile, a US towed pinger locator and Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle have arrived in Perth to assist with location and recovery of the black box.

The depth of the water in the search area is between 2,000 and 4,000 metres.

On Thursday, over 300 new objects were spotted by satellites of Thailand and Japan in or near the earlier search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

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