Tue, Mar 25, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Fresh leads catalyze MH370 search

AFP, CANBERRA

Two new objects were spotted in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 yesterday, the Australian government said, with a ship steaming to the scene and expected to be in the area “within hours.”

The new pieces are different to those seen by a Chinese plane earlier in the day and were located by a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion about 2,500km southwest of Perth in Australia, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament.

“The crew on board the Orion reported seeing two objects, the first a gray or green circular object and the second an orange rectangular object,” he added.

The HMAS Success, which has a crane capable of retrieving any wreckage, was in the area and attempting to recover the objects.

“HMAS Success is in the vicinity and it is possible that the objects could be received within the next few hours, or by tomorrow morning at the latest,” Malaysian Minister of Defense and Acting Minister of Transport Hishammuddin Hussein said in Kuala Lumpur.

Abbott said that a US Navy Poseidon, a second Royal Australian Orion and a Japanese Orion were also en route to the area.

“I caution again ... that we don’t know whether any of these objects are from MH370, they could be flotsam,” he said.

“Nevertheless, we are hopeful that we can recover these objects soon and they will take us a step closer to resolving this tragic mystery,” the prime minister added. “This is an extraordinary mystery, an absolutely baffling mystery.”

Earlier yesterday, a Chinese aircrew searching for the vanished airplane reported seeing “suspicious objects” in the area.

The larger objects were “white and square,” Xinhua news agency said, adding that Chinese icebreaker Xuelong was on its way to the scene.

The new leads boosted hopes of a breakthrough in the hunt for the Boeing 777 that disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The developments follow satellite images and data captured by Australia, China and France in recent days showing indistinct objects in the southern Indian Ocean, along with the visual sighting of a wooden pallet and other debris from a spotter plane on Saturday.

Australian, US and New Zealand planes have been flying sorties for five days looking for the Boeing 777. Ten aircraft were involved in yesterday’s search after the arrival of two giant Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 reconnaissance planes along with two Japanese P-3 Orions.

They have been criss-crossing a cumulative area of 68,500km2.

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