Breakthrough? Norwegian ship reaches site of 'possible' MH370 debris after Malaysia signals it 'credible lead'

‘New and credible information’ based on satellite imagery has come to light

Kuala Lumpur: A Norwegian ship on Thursday reached the Indian Ocean area where possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane was spotted, shipping company Hoeeg Autoliners said.

"The ship has arrived at the site to take part in the search," said Cecilie Moe, spokeswoman for the Norwegian company.
According to another Hooeg Autoliners spokesperson, Christian Dahll, the search window for Thursday was limited since sunset was at 1300 GMT.

The "St. Petersburg" vessel, a vehicles carrier, was on its way from Port Louis in Mauritius to the Australian city of Melbourne, when it was requested by the Australian authorities to reroute in order to identify the debris spotted by satellite in the southern Indian Ocean.

After two weeks of false leads, Australia revived the investigation on the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 when it announced the detection of two "objects" in the southern Indian Ocean, some 2,500 kilometres (1,553 miles) southwest of Perth in western Australia.

Malaysia said Thursday that two objects spotted by a satellite in the Indian Ocean were a "credible lead" in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet MH370.

"We now have a credible lead," Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

This "requires us overnight to verify and corroborate it," Hishammuddin said, adding that the overall search and rescue effort for Flight 370 would continue in the meantime.

Currently, there are 18 ships, 29 aircraft and six ship-borne helicopters deployed in the search along two corridors stretching from the southern Indian Ocean to South and Central Asia.

"Until we are certain that we have located MH370, search and rescue operations will continue in both corridors," Hishammuddin said.

"For families around the world, the one piece of information they want most is the information we just don't have: the location of MH370," he added.

Australia said on Thursday that two objects possibly related to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had been sighted at sea, marking a potential breakthrough in the nearly two-week search for the aircraft and its 239 passengers and crew.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament that "new and credible information" based on satellite imagery had come to light, and four long-range surveillance planes were being diverted to look into the find in the southern Indian Ocean.

"Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified," Abbot said.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority had said that the vast area it was scouring had been "significantly refined" following closer analysis of flight MH370's fuel reserves.

The Boeing 777 vanished in the early hours of March 8 after veering drastically off course over the South China Sea while en route to Beijing.

Sketchy radar and satellite data had resulted in investigators proposing two vast search corridors, stretching south into the Indian Ocean and north over South and Central Asia.

Most analysts had favoured the maritime southern corridor, pointing out the unlikelihood of the airliner passing undetected over nearly a dozen countries.

But the international search has been marked by numerous false leads, and Abbott sought to temper expectations.

'What have they found?'

"We must keep in mind the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370," he said.

The head of Malaysia's civil aviation authority, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said he was yet to receive any information from Australia.

"What have they found? They have found something? We have not received anything yet from them," Azharuddin told AFP.

The Malaysian authorities have been criticised for their handling of the investigation, especially by relatives of the passengers on board.

Nearly two-thirds of those on board were Chinese, and there were chaotic, emotional scenes Wednesday when a group of tearful Chinese relatives tried to gatecrash Malaysia's tightly controlled daily media briefing at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur airport.

Shouting and crying, the relatives unfurled a protest banner reading "Give us back our families", and accused the Malaysian authorities of withholding information and doing too little to find the plane.

If the plane is found in the ocean, fundamental questions will remain as to what caused it to crash .

( Source : AFP )
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