The hunt is on after Australia announced two objects possibly connected to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane had been spotted via satellite imagery in the Indian Ocean.
The U.S. P-8 joined in the search late Wednesday. Keep up with live updates below.
Update: 9:55 a.m. ET: The sea search has also ended for Thursday without finding any debris from the Malaysian plane and will resume Friday.
The Guardian reports that Höegh Autoliners – the owner of the Norwegian ship asked to scour the area – says the Höegh St. Petersburg car carrier has ended its search for debris today but will resume at dawn on Friday. This means both the air and sea searches have ended for Thursday.
Norway’s TV 2 reports that at a Thursday afternoon press conference in Norway, the shipping company said that its vessel was still the only one in the area of the Indian Ocean captured in satellite images on Sunday showing unidentified objects. The Norwegian station reports that the vessel is a freight ship and has limited search equipment available.
According to the Guardian, “The car carrier has been in the search area for 16 hours, a spokesman from the company said. He added the crew were looking for debris with binoculars. This may sound old fashioned but it was the best method, the man from Höegh said.” On board are 19 crew members.
Update: 9:25 a.m. ET: Australian maritime authorities announce the search in the Indian Ocean west of Perth has ended for Thursday and will resume Friday. Crews on four search aircraft did not find any debris from MH370, as satellite images had held out hope.
The statement from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) says the four aircraft covered an area of 23,000 square kilometers (about 14,000 square miles) on Thursday.
Update: 8:40 a.m. ET: ABC News correspondent David Wright who accompanied U.S. personnel searching for debris in the Indian Ocean aboard a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon reports that nothing was found by the crew on Thursday after searching a vast swath of ocean:
Update: 7:55 a.m. ET: The Associated Press captured these poignant photos Thursday morning:
Update: 7:10 a.m. ET: Both Nine News Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald report a Norwegian ship has reached the area in which the unidentified objects were seen on satellite images. No word yet on if anything had been spotted.
“Norwegian car carrier Hoegh St Petersburg has reached the search area, the ship owner said on Thursday. The car carrier was on its way from Madagascar to Melbourne when it got a request from Australian authorities to assist in investigating the objects,” Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald wrote.
Update: 7:00 a.m. ET: “Visibility very poor”: Nine News Australia tweeted this photo showing the immense challenge the weather is posing to Thursday’s search efforts southwest of Perth, Australia.
For those readers who missed the press conference from Australian AMSA Emergency Response Division General Manager John Young and Air Commodore John McGarry, you can watch it here:
Update: 6:45 a.m. ET: Frank Keany of Australia’s Fairfax Radio reports that the search will continue for about two-and-a-half more hours as of this writing and then resume at dawn on Friday.
The Australian Defense Force took this photo of Thursday’s search efforts in the area the debris were spotted via satellite:
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has this story once again reflecting disorganization in the search efforts before Thursday. “Four days went by before officials acted on satellite data showing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 flew for several hours away from the area being covered by a massive international search, people familiar with the matter said—a delay from which investigators are still working to recover,” WSJ reported.
“The satellite’s operator, Britain’s Inmarsat PLC, on March 11 turned over to a partner company its data analysis and other documents indicating that the plane wasn’t anywhere near the areas on either side of Malaysia where more countries and ships had been searching for three days since the plane disappeared,” it added.
Update: 6:00 a.m. ET: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) just issued this update indicating weather challenges to the search effort:
Update: 5:55 a.m. ET: New confusion from Malaysian investigators as reported by Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “Civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman spreads more confusion by suggesting the Australian satellite images were taken this morning, despite Sunday’s date on the images. He is corrected by [Acting Transport Minister] Hishammuddin who points out that the news was received this morning,” the Guardian wrote of Thursday’s daily press briefing in Kuala Lumpur.
Update: 5:35 a.m. ET: At Malaysia’s daily briefing Thursday [currently underway], Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein called the latest development coming out of Australia “a credible lead.”
He detailed the extensive multinational effort underway to search for the plane. Along the possible southern route the flight may have taken, 25 aircraft, 18 ships, and 6 helicopters are currently searching, Hussein said.
Update: 5:15 a.m. ET: Britain’s Guardian newspaper pointed out that it is important to note that the satellite images [seen below] of the objects in the Indian Ocean released by Australia are four days old, from Sunday March 16.
Sky News spoke to oceanographer Simon Boxall from the UK’s Southampton University who noted that “complex” currents could pose a challenge to locating the objects. “If this does prove to be a positive sighting it narrows the search down, but it means we have gone from searching for a needle in a field of haystacks to a needle in a haystack,” Boxall said. Weather reports in the area of the search suggested conditions weren’t ideal but were set to improve.
The Australian government also released this map showing the location of the spotted objects in relation to possible routes the passenger jet could have taken on the southern flight corridor.
Update: 4:40 a.m. ET: The news of the potential sighting via satellite was rattling nerves even further for the families who have suffered through almost two weeks without solid information.
Philip Wen, China correspondent for Australia’s Fairfax Media described the scene at Beijing’s Lido Hotel where some family members are staying.
“About 100 people watched intently as a live broadcast of the [prime minister’s] press conference in Australia was beamed into the room. A sad, collective sigh went up in the room when an Australian official said the first thing to do would be to check for survivors. Mostly they sat silently, hanging on every word,” he wrote.
The BBC’s Beijing correspondent captured this photo of ambulances standing by at a hotel where relatives were waiting:
And a child wrote a heartbreaking message to her mother who was on the flight:
Reuters added this on the search efforts: “The relatively large size of the objects would also suggest that, if they do come from the missing aircraft, it was intact when it went into the water,” the news agency wrote.
Update: 4:00 a.m. ET: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) official John Young said the largest object spotted by satellite “was assessed as being 24 meters [78 feet]. There is another one that is smaller than that.”
Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that if the debris turns out to be remnants from MH370, the location in the Southern Indian Ocean “eliminates some of the wilder theories about what happened to the crew and instead points to a likely emergency on the flight, such as an attempt by the crew to turn back before falling unconscious and leaving the plane flying on autopilot until it out of fuel.”
That would point to new theories which the Herald suggested could include “loss of the satellite antenna, causing a hole in the fuselage, an explosion, perhaps of an emergency oxygen tank, that took out the communications and caused a decompression, or a small fire on board that produced fumes that overcame the pilots but did not destroy the plane.”
To now, investigators had focused efforts on sabotage.
Sydney Morning Herald reporter Anne Davies explained that if the objects are from MH370 and the cockpit voice recorder is found – no easy task – investigators will be hampered by the voice recorder overwriting every two hours. “This means that if the pilots did fall into unconsciousness and the plane flew on on autopilot, the tape is likely to be two hours of silence,” Davies writes.
Original story below:
(TheBlaze/AP) — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday two objects possibly connected to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane have been observed on satellite imagery. An air force aircraft was reportedly diverted to the area in an attempt to find them.
Abbott told Parliament in Canberra that the Orion aircraft would arrive in the area on Thursday afternoon and would be followed by three additional aircraft as part of a broader search.
“The task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out they are not related to the search for MH370,” Abbott cautioned.
The Malaysia Airlines jetliner has been missing since March 8 with 239 people on board.
This post has been updated.