Missing Malaysian plane: Search race to recover debris

Footage from an Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft shows a smoke marker where an object was spotted

An Australian plane has spotted two objects in the hunt for the missing Malaysia plane, and a ship has arrived in the area to find them.

The objects could be picked up in the southern Indian Ocean in a few hours, Malaysia's transport minister said.

One object was circular and grey or green, and the other rectangular and orange, Australian PM Tony Abbott said.

Mr Abbott said it was not known whether the objects were from flight MH370, and they could be flotsam.

Analysis

Day five of the Australian-led surveillance mission in the southern Indian Ocean has potentially been its most dramatic so far. Both Australian and Chinese air force crews have reported spotting debris in the search for flight MH370. The unidentified objects have been seen in separate parts of the vast search area.

Immense challenges lie ahead for the Australian navy ship charged with finding the two items seen by its air force colleagues.

HMAS Success will have to navigate through some of the world's most treacherous and remote waters before its crew can find and retrieve clues that might help solve this baffling and distressing mystery.

The multinational search effort 2,500km south-west of Perth could be hampered in the coming days by ocean storms.

The two objects were different, he said, from several white, square-shaped objects spotted earlier by Chinese military planes.

"The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has advised that objects have been located by a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion. And I can advise the House that HMAS Success is on scene and is attempting to locate and recover these objects," Mr Abbott told the Australian parliament.

The objects were spotted some 2,500km (1,550 miles) south-west of Perth, western Australia, at about 14:45 local time (06:45 GMT).

A US Navy Poseidon plane, a second Royal Australian Air Force Orion and a Japanese Orion were also en route to or were in the search area, he added.

Investigators could be closer to resolving "one of the great mysteries of our time", he said.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein confirmed the missing airliner had been carrying wooden pallets, but said there was no connection yet to a reported Australian sighting of pallets floating in the search zone.

Flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board.

Ten planes were scheduled to scour the southern Indian Ocean area on Monday for possible debris picked up earlier by radar echoes and satellite imagery.

Two Chinese military planes flew out to the search area on Monday morning, while two Japanese P-3 Orion aircraft set off later in the day.

bbc map

Debris: Could it be missing flight MH370?

The search for flight MH370 has been taking place in two large corridors - one stretching to the north-west of the last known location in the Malacca Strait and one to the south-west.

However, none of the countries on the northern corridor have reported any radar contact, and the Australian and Chinese satellite images of possible debris in the south Indian Ocean have concentrated the search there.

They joined six other planes, including US and Australian military planes, in searching a 68,500 sq km (26,000 sq miles) area in the ocean.

Several Chinese ships are also on their way.

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