“This is a lead, it’s probably the best lead we have right now,” Young said. He cautioned that the objects could be seaborne debris along a shipping route where containers can fall off cargo vessels, although the larger object is longer than a container.
A statement from the authority said the four planes searched an area of 8,800 square miles about 1,550 miles southwest of Perth on Thursday without success. The area is about halfway between Australia and desolate islands off the Antarctic.
“The search will continue on Friday,” it said. It earlier said the search had been hampered by low visibility caused by clouds and rain.
CBS News’ Bob Orr reported Thursday that the objects spotted on the satellite images were at the extreme southern end of the projected southern search corridor, so in an area where all earlier information suggested crews might expect to find the missing jet. He said it was conceivable that the largest object — nearly 80 feet in length — was one of the Boeing 777’s wings. As the flight would have been near the end of its fuel supply in reaching the area, the fuel tanks in the wings would be close to empty, giving the wings added buoyancy.
News that possible plane parts had been found marked a new phase in the emotional roller coaster for distraught relatives of the passengers, who have criticized Malaysia harshly for not releasing timely information about the plane. While they still hope their loved ones will somehow be found, they acknowledged that news of the debris could mean the plane plunged into the ocean.