Two objects spotted by satellite in the southern Indian Ocean may be debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Australian authorities said Thursday, fueling cautious hopes of a breakthrough in an international search of unprecedented scale.
A Royal Australian Air Force search plane dispatched to the remote spot was unable to find either object amid rain, clouds and limited visibility Thursday afternoon, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said on Twitter. A U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft also searched the area and found nothing, a Navy official said.
A Norwegian merchant ship had also reached the site, its owner confirmed Thursday. But as darkness fell over the region, it seemed unlikely further information would come until Friday.
Authorities cautioned the objects could be something else - shipping containers that fell off a vessel, for instance. But they said they represent the best lead so far in the search for the missing airliner, which vanished 13 days ago with 239 passengers and crew aboard.
"At least there is a credible lead," Malaysia's interim Transportation Secretary Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters. "That gives us hope. As long as there's hope, we will continue."
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