Officials in Australia said that they had observed debris in the Indian Ocean that could be part of the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner that disappeared 12 days ago with 239 people on board. The debris was sighted using satellite imagery in an area of the Indian Ocean, about 1,500 miles off the coast of the Australian city of Perth.
"New and credible information has come to light in relation to the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday. "The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search.”
Officials said that teams would be dispatched to the area to check the debris, which includes objects measured up to 78 feet long, consistent with what one would expect to find from an airplane. With that, one Australian rescue official said, “there is no confirmation yet. We have been in the search and rescue business for a long time, and often what we think we see on satellite images is often something else.”
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared without on March 8, generating a range of theories as to its fate – from hijacking to crashing to being diverted for use in a terror attack, possibly against Israel. On Wednesday, it was revealed that crucial files had been deleted from the pilots' flight simulators sometime before takeoff, leading to further speculation on the plane's fate, with the New York Times saying that the e Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been brought in to aid the ongoing search for the missing plane.
The FBI is expected to relay the contents of the simulator's hard drive back to experts in the US to speed the investigative process. So far, the intelligence organization has also conducted extensive background checks on passengers with connections to the US and Europe, as well as the pilots and the two Iranian nationals who used stolen passports to board the plane.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama said that finding the plane was a “top priority” for the U.S. and the dozens of countries involved in the search. We have put every resource we have available at the disposal of the search process," Obama said. "There's been close cooperation with the Malaysian government... anybody who typically deals with anything related to our aviation system is available."