Kuala Lumpur: In the “best lead” so far in finding the Malaysian airliner which disappeared 13 days ago with 239 people on board, surveillance aircraft today flew over a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean where two large objects were spotted floating.
Australian military-led search aircraft were dispatched to check whether the two objects were the wreckage of the Beijing-bound Flight MH370.
One of the objects spotted by satellite imagery was 24 meters (about 80 ft) in length and the other was 5 meters (15 ft).
The dimension of one of the objects spotted four days ago could possibly be a major part of a wing, officials indicated.
Australian authorities also said the search could take time and one of its military planes was unable to locate the debris due to bad weather, but other planes would continue the hunt.
Officials said one should not jump to any early conclusion as the hunt for the Boeing 777-200 missing since March 8 had thrown up several false leads.
“It’s probably the best lead we have right now,” Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) official John Young said in Canberra but he hastened to add that it could also be seaborne debris as containers periodically fall off cargo vessels.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak received a call from his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott, informing him that two possible objects related to the search for the plane had been identified in the southern Indian Ocean, Defence and Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
“We now have a credible lead,” he said, adding this “requires us overnight to verify and corroborate it”.
Hishammuddin said that the overall search effort involving 26 countries for the plane with 239 people, including five Indians, on board would continue in the meantime along two corridors stretching from the southern Indian Ocean to South and Central Asia.
A late evening report said a US Navy surveillance aircraft also searched the area but was unable to trace the objects, a Navy official said.
Australian officials said satellite imagery showed the objects were around 2,500 km southwest of Perth, one of the remotest parts of the globe, and appeared to be awash over water several thousand metres deep.