Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight Focuses on Debris in Indian Ocean
UPDATED: Before Australian authorities ended the search for the day, ABC News reporter David Wright was aboard a U.S. aircraft sent to try to identify two large objects spotted by satellite off the coast of Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott raised global hopes of a potential break in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 on Thursday, reporting that his country had sighted two large objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean.
The largest of the two objects spotted by satellite was estimated to be about 79 feet in length and the other about 15 feet, John Young, of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, told reporters at news conference in Canberra, Australia's capital. He added that the debris appears to be in an area of water several thousand feet deep.
VIDEO: Family Members of Missing Malaysian Flight Passengers Dragged Screaming From Press Conference
"This is a lead. It's probably the best lead we have right now," Young said. But he also called for restraint, noting that the area is a shipping route and the objects could be seaborne debris fallen from a container vessel -- although the largest object is tantalizingly bigger than a standard shipping container.
Four military search and rescue planes were sent to explore the region about 1,550 miles southwest off the coast of Perth on Thursday afternoon in an attempt to locate and identify the large objects.
ABC News reporter David Wright was aboard an aircraft sent to the area by the U.S., the P-8 Poseidon, which is said to be the world's most sophisticated search plane. Equipped with radar and powerful cameras, the plane conducted a nine-hour search of the Indian Ocean but turned up nothing conclusive.
According to Wright, the plane worked back and fourth through its search area in a lawn mowing pattern, picking up several hits, which turned out to be a freighter and two pods of dolphins.
Bad weather was hampering search efforts throughout the day, Australian officials said. Cloudy skies had also made deeper analysis of the satellite images difficult.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a local news conference on Thursday that the satellite images, "while credible, still must be confirmed."
Shortly after 9 p.m. Malaysian time, authorities ended the search for Thursday, the Associated Press reported.