Aircraft and ships ploughed through dire weather on Thursday in search of objects floating in remote seas off Australia that Malaysia’s government called a “credible lead” in the trans-continental hunt for a jetliner missing for nearly two weeks.
The large objects, which Australian officials said were spotted by satellite four days ago in one of the remotest parts of the globe, are the most promising find in days as searchers scour a vast area for the plane lost with 239 people on board.
A Norwegian merchant ship arrived in the area on Thursday, but officials cautioned it could take days to confirm if the objects were parts of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777. Malaysia’s government said the search would continue elsewhere despite the sighting in the southern Indian Ocean.
The area where the objects were spotted is around 2,500 km (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth, roughly corresponding to the far end of a southern track that investigators calculated the aircraft could have taken after it was diverted.
“Yesterday I said that we wanted to reduce the area of the search. We now have a credible lead,” Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
“There remains much work to be done to deploy the assets. This work will continue overnight.”
A search for the plane that began in the tropical waters off Malaysia’s east coast has now switched to the vast, icy southern oceans between Australia, southern Africa and Antarctica.