An Australian navy ship was on Monday close to retrieving several objects spotted in remote southern Indian Ocean by the international team hunting for the Malaysian jetliner, raising hopes of a breakthrough in the frustrating search for the plane that went missing 17 days back.
Australian and Chinese planes reported seeing several objects floating about 2,500 km south—west of Perth.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said two objects —— the first grey or green and circular and the second orange and rectangular —— were located by an Australian P3 Orion aircraft in the area.
A Chinese Ilyushin—76 plane reported spotting “white and square” objects in the same location.
The Australian Premier said it was not known whether the objects were from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, and could be flotsam.
The HMAS Success ship is in the area and attempting to recover the objects, he said.
Abbott said a US Navy Poseidon, a second Royal Australian Orion and a Japanese Orion are also en route to the search area where new objects were located from air. Chinese Icebreaker Xue Long is also heading towards the area.
“I caution again ... that we don’t know whether any of these objects are from MH370, they could be flotsam,” he said.
“Nevertheless, we are hopeful that we can recover these objects soon and they will take us a step closer to resolving this tragic mystery,” he added.
However, none of the sighted objects have so far been firmly linked to Flight MH370, which disappeared more than two weeks ago over Southeast Asia with 239 people, including five Indians and an Indo—Canadian on board.
Malaysia also confirmed the news with Prime Minister Najib Razak tweeting, “Just received a call from Australian PM @tonyabbott —2 objects were located & will be retrieved in the next few hours.”
Malaysian Defence and Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said two unidentified orange objects and a white drum had been sighted but had no other details.
Emphasising that search for the Boeing 777— 200 will continue, Hishamuddin said 18,500 sq nautical metres had been searched so far and the Air France crash team was working closely with Malaysia.
He said police have interviewed more than 100 people, including families of both the pilot and the co—pilot.