An Australian satellite has spotted possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday.
"I would like to inform the house that 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, " Abbot told the parliament, reports the Voice of America
Two satellite images show objects as large as 24 metres around 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth. The sightings came around two weeks after the MH370 lost signal.
Abbott said an Orion aircraft was on its way to investigate the possible debris adding that three more surveillance planes will join the search. However, he did not mention the exact location. Abbott said Australia will search the entire southern Indian Ocean.
According to John Young, general manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), visibility might hinder the investigation. Young said a merchant ship will be sent to inspect the objects.
"The objects are relatively indistinct in the imagery. They are objects of a reasonable size and probably awash with water. The largest image I've seen is assessed as being 24 metres, another one is smaller than that," Young said, reports The Australian. But he warned that the photos are "not that precise" and people should refrain from drawing conclusions.
Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand have sent military planes to search the region over the southern Indian Ocean that was narrowed down from 600,000 square kilometers (232,000 square miles) to 305,000 square kilometers (117,000 square miles), reports the Associated Press.
In the meantime, Malaysia said the imagery of the possible debris gave reason for hope of a resolution to the missing plane. It however, said that the claims should be backed up with evidence. "Every lead is a hope," acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, reports The Malaysian Insider. "We have been very consistent. We want to verify, we want to corroborate," he said adding that it may take time for Australia to verify the objects as the search area is large.