24 March 2014
ABC Australia reports – Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australian authorities have located new “objects” during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
He has told Parliament the objects were located 2,500 kilometres south-west of Perth by a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion about 2:45pm (AEDT).
Mr Abbott says the first object was grey or green and circular and the second was orange and rectangular, but has cautioned it is not yet known if the objects are from the missing plane.
He says they are separate to objects spotted by a Chinese search plane earlier today which were unable to be located by a US Navy P-8 Poseidon dispatched to the area by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
Mr Abbott says HMAS Success is on the scene and is attempting to locate and recover the objects.
Mr Abbott says they are separate to objects spotted by a Chinese search plane earlier today which were unable to be located by a US Navy P-8 Poseidon dispatched to the area by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
“I can advise the House that a US Navy Poseidon, a second Royal Australian Air Force Orion and a Japanese Orion are also en route to or are in the search area,” Mr Abbott said.
“Planes and ships continue to search the area for any sign of the missing aircraft. I caution again Mr Acting Deputy Speaker that we don’t know whether any of these objects are from MH370.
“They could be flotsam. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that we can recover these objects soon and that they will take us a step closer to resolving this tragic mystery.
“This is an extraordinary mystery, an absolutely baffling mystery.
“Let me reiterate to this House, we owe it to the families of those on board, we owe it to the loved ones of those on board, we owe it to all the people concerned about the fate of this aircraft, to do whatever we reasonably can to find anything that is out there.”
Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein says his prime minister received a call from Mr Abbott to say Australian aircraft had located two objects.
“HMAS Success remains the only vessel in the search area. A number of Chinese vessels are expected to arrive within the search area on 25 March,” he said.
“Three aircraft – two from Japan and one from the UAE – have already departed today and are en route to the southern corridor.
“Six ships with three helicopters are now in the northern part of the southern corridor. Ten Chinese ships are in the southern corridor carrying out search-and-rescue operations.”
No sign of objects spotted by Chinese crew
In a statement, AMSA confirmed the objects identified by the RAAF Orion are separate to the objects reported by the Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 to AMSA earlier today.
“The US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft sought to relocate the objects reported by the Chinese aircraft but were unable to do so,” the authority said.
“The US Navy P-8 is remains in the search area, while a second RAAF P-3 and a Japanese P-3 are en route to their assigned search areas.
“The last of these aircraft will depart the search area about 11pm (AEDT).”
Official Chinese news agency Xinhua had reported “white and square” objects were spotted by a Chinese aircraft and the coordinates were sent to the Australian search command centre.
Searchers reportedly discovered “two relatively big floating objects with many white smaller ones scattered within a radius of several kilometres”, said Xinhua, citing a reporter on board a Chinese Ilyushin-76 plane.
“The crew has reported the coordinates to the Australian command centre as well as Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, which is en route to the sea area,” Xinhua said.
China’s foreign ministry said the Chinese government could not confirm the objects were connected with the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
But an Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) spokeswoman has since confirmed the P-8 Poseidon, the most advanced search aircraft in the world, was unable to find the objects spotted by the Chinese crew.
Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard, including six Australians.