Possible MH370 debris sighting? UPDATE

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that two objects have been located in the Australian search zone that could be related to the MH370 disappearance.

The objects were apparently picked up via satellite imagery, and a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 is en-route to investigate. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) – which is overseeing the southern search – is holding a press conference at 3:30 p.m. (Australian Eastern time), by which time more details should be known.

While Abbott describes the latest information as “credible,” he also stressed that the objects will be hard to find and may turn out to be unrelated.
There have already been multiple false sightings of MH370 debris in various regions.

UPDATE – not too much more clarity from the AMSA press conference on what the debris might be. However, some interesting nuggets, particularly on what it means for the search effort. Here are a few of these developments:

-          “It is a lead, and probably the best lead we have right now,” says AMSA. However, it may still turn out to be unrelated. Debris such as shipping containers are sometimes found in the ocean, but the size and number in the same area makes this particular debris “interesting.”

-          The satellite images are “relatively indistinct,” but experts say they are credible sightings. The objects are of “reasonable size,” and appear to be awash. One object is 24 meters long, the other is smaller. The imagery so far is not precise enough to distinguish windows or markings.

-          Futher images are expected “in due course” after satellites are directed to take hi-res images.

An RAAF P-3 arrived at about 1.30pm AEDT, and three other aircraft followed. One of these, a U.S. Poseidon, is already on the scene. A second Australian P-3 will be there at 6p.m. AEDT, and an RNZAF P-3 will be there around 8p.m.

-          The possible debris site is within the designated search area. It takes about 4 hours for a P-3 to fly there, leaving 2 hours of search time. Visibility in the area is described as poor.

-          An RAAF C-130 has been tasked to drop marker buoys to determine current and drift.

HMAS Success is en-route to the area, but it is still some days away. It is equipped to recover debris.

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