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A possible break in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Wednesday night prompted a global news alert, leading cable news networks to break into regularly scheduled programming
“Heading back in to CNN due to reports of possible debris found off Australia,” the news anchor tweeted at 9 p.m. PST, as he awaited the press conference in Australia. “We are here at this late hour at 1 a.m. ET but 1 p.m. [Thursday] in Australia,” he said on-air.
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Both Fox News Channel and MSNBC covered the conference as well, with Fox’s Shepard Smith reporting live through 2 a.m. ET.
The live conference from Canberra included Amsa’s emergency response general manager, John Young, explaining that two large objects had been spotted by satellites in the Indian Ocean, which could be debris from the plane that vanished on March 8.
“The objects are indistinct … they are credible sightings, they are of reasonable size. The largest is 24 meters [62 feet], and there are a number of other images in the general area,” explained Young.
“The focus is to continue the search for parts of the missing aircraft. These objects may be very difficult to locate and may not be related to the search,” he said.
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While it is still too early to know if the debris is from the Boeing 777, which was carrying 239 passengers and crew when it disappeared on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, the sighting “is credible enough to divert the search to this area,” he said.
“Amsa is doing its very best to find anyone from the aircraft who may have survived. It is a lead, but we need to find them [the objects] and assess them to see if they are related to the aircraft,” he said.
The objects have currently been spotted by satellite and the next step is that military aircrafts will find them and send back the GPS coordinates, and ships will be sent out to investigate.
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Searches will be hindered by both the sheer depth of the water 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, where it reaches 3,000 feet. Another challenge is poor visibility from adverse weather conditions.
“This is very, very deep water, which will make this search difficult,” explained Cooper during his coverage. “We simply do not know what they have on radar.”
An Australian C-130 Hercules plane has been tasked by Australian authorities to drop market buoys in the area, to mark the place and transmit location data. Meanwhile, the Malaysian Navy has six navy ships with three helicopters heading to the southern Indian Ocean to take part in the search, a Malaysian government source said, according to CNN.
The ongoing search for the passenger aircraft has captured the attention of the world and the news networks, with CNN devoting wall-to-wall coverage over the past 12 days, leading to a robust rise in ratings.
Earlier on Wednesday, President Obama made his first public statement on the ongoing crisis. “We have put every resource that we have available at the disposal of the search process,” he said in an interview with Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW, adding that the nation’s thoughts and prayers were with the grieving families. Three Americans were aboard the flight.
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