Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Search called off for day after two pieces of debris spotted floating in Indian Ocean

Initial attempts to identify debris have been hampered by bad weather, and now bad light

Kuala Lumpur

Search and rescue teams have been scouring a remote location four hours from the Australian coast after a satellite spotted two objects that could possibly be linked to missing Flight MH370.

One of the pieces of suspected debris could be as long as 24 metres, but little else is likely to be revealed soon after growing darkness forced officials to call off the search for today.

Earlier John Young, of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), said: “This is a lead. Probably the best lead we have right now. But we need to get there, find them, see them.”

He said a number of ships and planes had been sent to the location, where the water is said to be thousands of feet deep. But he also warned that nothing could be assumed: the spot where the objects were seen was located 1,600 miles south-west from city of Perth and finding anything would be a major challenge. Poor weather was not helping the issue.

Indeed, an insight of just how difficult the weather might be, officials said last night the first plane dispatched – a P3 Orion – had been unable to locate the debris and that cloud and rain had limited its visibility. Given the four-hour journey each way, the planes are limited to a search at the suspected location of just two hours.

Mr Young also reminded anyone desperate for a piece of information 14 days after the Malaysian Airlines plane and its 239 passengers and crew went missing, that the objects might not be related. “We have been in this business of doing search and rescue and using sat images before and they do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, so we will hold our views on that until they are sited close-up,” he said.

The point was reinforced by Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott, when he announced in parliament “new and credible” information had come to light.  A number of sightings of possible debris have previously been investigated in the search for the plane but so far none of them have proved to be linked.

“The task to locate these objects will be extremely difficult and they may not turn out to be linked to the search for Flight 370,” said Mr Abbott, who later spoke with his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak.

Officials said the objects had been spotted on satellite imagery and that an assessment completed on Thursday by the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation suggested they could be pieces of debris. They were spotted in the area where Australians have been searching in the last two days.

In addition to the Australian assets that were dispatched today, officials said that planes from New Zealand and the US were on their way to the area to help.

A handout photo taken on 19 March 2014 shows Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Flight Sergeant Tom Stewart from 10 Squadron watching a radar screen for signs of debris on board an AP-3C Orion over the Southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 Royal Australian Air Force Airborne Electronics Analyst Flight Sergeant Tom Stewart from 10 Squadron watching a radar screen for signs of debris on board an AP-3C Orion over the Southern Indian Ocean Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers. Twenty-six nations have been involved in a major search for the missing plane, which Malaysia says was intentionally diverted.

Malaysia’s Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said Mr Abbott had spoken with Mr Najib on Thursday morning and informed him about the objects that had been spotted. “Every effort is being made to locate the objects seen in the satellite imagery. It must be stressed that these sightings, while credible, are still to be confirmed,” he said.

Satellite images of objects in the Indian Ocean which may be from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Satellite images of objects in the Indian Ocean which may be from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Officials in Australia said a number of aircraft had been sent to the location, four hours flying time from Perth. A Royal Australian Air Force Orion aircraft arrived in the area about 1.50pm local time.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion, a US Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft and another Australian Orion were due to arrive later. A Hercules C130 had been dispatched to drop marker buoys to assist in drift modelling. “They will provide an ongoing reference point if the task of relocating the objects becomes protracted,” said a statement by the AMSA.

In the past two weeks, investigators in Malaysia, assisted by foreign intelligence agencies, have been scrutinising the backgrounds of both the crew and the passengers on the missing jet, but have so far identified no evidence of terror or other potentially relevant links.

A map of the search area for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 currently conducted by AMSA A map of the search area for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 currently conducted by AMSA Investigators had identified two corridors of territory - one to the north and one to the south - spanning the possible positions of the plane more than seven hours after it took off for Beijing. Earlier this week, Australia was asked by Malaysia to take responsibility for the “southern corridor” search.

The plane lost contact with controllers over the South China Sea as it crossed from Malaysian to Vietnamese air space. Malaysian officials say it then turned west and its last position - according to Malaysian military radar - was over the Malacca Straits, in the opposite direction to its planned flight path.

The FBI has been called into assist in trying to recover data deleted from the flight simulator owned by the plane’s chief pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

Mr Hishammuddin, the Transport Minister, said earlier this week that the the captain of the plane should be considered innocent until proved otherwise and said that members of his family were co-operating with the investigation.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world