The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 shifted again after several floating objects were spotted by five planes late Friday in a previously ignored section of the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth, Australia.
Based on a new review of radar data, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said that the search has now shifted about 1,100 kilometers (683.5 miles) northeast of the previous search area. The new data collected from radar between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca indicated that Flight 370 was traveling faster than previous estimates, resulting in faster fuel consumption and reducing the effective range of the Boeing 777-200ER as it traveled south toward the Indian Ocean.
The new search area covers an ocean span of 319,000 square kilometers (123,000 square miles). The search effort on Friday included 10 planes from Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, China and the United States.
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Five aircraft have reported spotting “multiple objects of various colors,” but it remains unclear if the debris is from Flight 370. The plane, carrying 239 passengers and crew members, disappeared on March 8, sparking a massive international search by sea, air and satellite data.
The crew of a Royal New Zealand Airforce P-3 Orion said they saw several white or light color objects and a fishing buoy in one part of the search area. Elsewhere, a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion team said that they spotted two blue/grey rectangular objects floating in the ocean. The crew of another RAAF plane said they spotted several objects of various colors in a different area, about 546 kilometers (340 miles) away.
RNZAF Orion spotted objects in #MH370 search area, identity to be established. Soon to land @ RAAF Pearce. AMSA awaiting imagery. 1/2
â€” AMSA News (@AMSA_News) March 28, 2014
While photographs were taken of the objects by planes flying through the search area -- raising hope that the fate of Flight 370 will be eventually known -- rough seas and misdirection have slowed the search, and the ships likely won't try until Saturday to recover the objects as part of the process of verifying or discounting their connection to Flight 370.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said that a Chinese maritime administration patrol ship, Haixun 01, will participate in the recovery effort on Saturday, when weather conditions aren't expected to hamper search teams' efforts.
In addition to search efforts on land and sea, the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organization, part of its department of defense, is also retasking satellites to help capture images of the new search area.