An Australian aircraft scouring the southern Indian Ocean for signs of a Malaysia Airlines jet missing for more than two weeks has spotted two new objects, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday.
Abbott told parliament an Australian naval vessel was near where the objects, one circular and greenish grey in color and the second orange and rectangular, had been seen and hoped to be able to recover them soon.
A Chinese search aircraft earlier reported seeing several different objects but a U.S. navy aircraft failed to find them.
Aircraft flying on Monday were focused on searching by sight, rather than radar, which can be tricky to use because of the high seas and wind in the area.
"It's a lot of water to look for just perhaps a tiny object," Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio before the Chinese report.
"Today we expect the weather to deteriorate and the forecast ahead is not that good, so it's going to be a challenge, but we will stick at it," he said.
Australia was also analysing French radar images showing potential floating debris that were taken some 850 km (530 miles) north of the current search area.
Australia has used a U.S. satellite image of two floating objects to frame its search area. A Chinese satellite has also spotted an object floating in the ocean there, estimated at 22 metres long (74ft) and 13 metres (43ft) wide.
It could not be determined easily from the blurred images whether the objects were the same as those detected by the Australian and Chinese search planes, but the Chinese photograph could depict a cluster of smaller objects, said a senior military officer from one of the 26 nations involved in the search.
The wing of a Boeing 777-200ER is approximately 27 metres long and 14 metres wide at its base, according to estimates derived from publicly available scale drawings. Its fuselage is 63.7 metres long by 6.2 metres wide.
NASA said it would use high-resolution cameras aboard satellites and the International Space Station to look for possible crash sites in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. space agency is also examining archived images collected by instruments on its Terra and Aqua environmental satellites.
Investigators believe someone on the flight shut off the plane's communications systems. Partial military radar tracking showed it turning west and re-crossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.
That has led them to focus on hijacking or sabotage, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems. Faint electronic "pings" detected by a commercial satellite suggested it flew for another six hours or so, but could do no better than place its final signal on one of two vast arcs north and south.
While the southern arc is now the main focus of the search, Malaysia says efforts will continue in both corridors until confirmed debris are found.
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