Officials have moved the search area for the lost Malaysian airliner 680 miles to the north east after a new analysis of radar data, and planes quickly found multiple objects in the new zone.
Five out of 10 aircraft hunting for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 found objects of various colours, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said.
It was not clear whether the objects were from the plane, and photographs of them will be analysed overnight. Amsa said the objects included two that were blue and grey – among the colours of the missing plane. A Chinese patrol ship in the area will attempt to locate the objects today, Amsa said.
The three-week hunt for the jet has been filled with possible sightings, with hundreds of objects identified by satellite and others by plane, but so far not a single piece of debris has been confirmed.
Australian officials said they turned away from the old search area, which they had combed for a week, because a new analysis of radar data suggests the plane had flown faster and therefore ran out of fuel more quickly than previously estimated. The new area is closer to land and has calmer weather than the old one, which will make searching easier.
“We have moved on” from the old search area, said John Young, manager of Amsa’s emergency response division.
The radar data that was re-analysed was received soon after Flight 370 lost communications and veered from its scheduled path on March 8.
The Beijing-bound flight carrying 239 people turned around soon after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, flew west towards the Strait of Malacca and disappeared from radar.
The search area has changed several times since the plane vanished as experts analysed a frustratingly small amount of data from the aircraft, including the radar signals and “pings” that a satellite picked up for several hours after radar and voice contact was lost.
The new search area is about 123,000 square miles.