Search For Missing Jet Focuses On Objects Seen Off Australia

March 20, 2014

Satellite images showing objects floating in the Indian Ocean have focused on the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and the 239 people who were on board to an area about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia.

This is, in the words of acting Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein, the first "credible lead" since the plane disappeared on March 8 while on what was supposed to be a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

As NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, one of the objects is thought to be about 80 feet long. He adds this cautionary note: Officials say debris is not uncommon in that part of the Indian Ocean. Objects often seen floating there include containers that have fallen off ships.

The Sydney Morning Herald is among other news outlets that are also live blogging. Bear in mind: Perth is 12 hours ahead of the East Coast of the U.S.

Update at 8:10 a.m. ET. Norwegian Ship Is Searching Area:

The Hoegh St. Petersburg, a Norwegian merchant ship that transports motor vehicles, diverted to the area where the debris was sighted and is now in the vicinity, according to news reports. The ship's owners plan to hold a news conference Thursday morning.

Update at 7:45 a.m. ET. Even If This Is The Location, Recovery Could Take Years:

Hussein cautioned Thursday that even if this debris is from Flight 370, the search for the jet and such critical pieces as its "black box" could take years because of the difficulty of such oceanic recovery missions.

As we have noted, even though searchers had a pretty good idea of where Air France Flight 447 went down in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, it was nearly two years before major pieces of the wreckage and human remains could be recovered from the ocean floor.

6:30 a.m. ET. First Flight Crew Unable To See Anything:

"RAAF P3 crew unable to locate debris. Cloud & rain limited visbility. Further aircraft to continue search for #MH370," the Australian Maritime Safety Authority tweets.

RAAF is an acronym for the Royal Australian Air Force. P3 refers to the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft built by Lockheed Martin.

Story source: NPR