Satellite imagery may show debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 off the west coast of Australia, according to Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott.
On Thursday, the 13th day after the plane disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, Abbott told a parliamentary session in Canberra that satellite images have discovered two objects in waters off Perth.
“New and credible information has come to light in relation to the search…in the south Indian Ocean,” Abbott said. “The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search.”
However, Abbott remained wary of jumping to conclusions, stating that “the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult…and it may be they do not relate to the aircraft.”
An Australian P-3 Orion aircraft has been diverted to check out the objects and should arrive on the scene at about 2pm local time, Abbott said, adding that he has already informed Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak.
The Indian Ocean off Western Australia is in one of the two potential flight corridors the missing Boeing 777-200 might have taken based on satellite “pings” picked up nearly seven hours after the flight last made contact with ground control in the early hours of March 8.
Authorities now believe the plane was intentionally diverted after it was revealed that its communication systems were deliberately switched off at around 1:20am. Military radar tracked the jet for another 70 minutes as it made a turn from the South China Sea across the Malaysian peninsula to the Straight of Malacca before turning northwest towards the Indian Ocean.
The homes of both the plane’s pilots have been raided as authorities turn their attention toward the 227 passengers and 12 crew on board, though so far there have been no explanations as to who may have hijacked the plane, and why — if indeed a hijacking took place rather than an unexplained emergency.
It was reported Wednesday that Aishah Zaharie, the daughter of flight MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, has fled her home in Melbourne and returned to Malaysia amid growing speculation of her father’s possible involvement in the plane’s mysterious disappearance.