Australian authorities announced Thursday afternoon local time that new satellite imagery had located two potentially interesting 24-meter-sized (78.7 ft.) “blobs” some 1500 miles southwest of Perth in a particularly deep and remote area of the southern Indian Ocean.
Speaking at a news conference, John Young, General Manager of Australia’s emergency maritime response division, announced that at least four search aircraft were either at the scene or en route and that although the weather was not cooperating with search efforts at the moment, search teams were hoping to have more definitive data possibly linking this imagery to the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.
Young said that it was too soon to say whether the satellite blobs could be debris from MH370, which disappeared some ten days ago, or simply debris from a passing freighter. When pressed, Young said the satellite imagery wasn’t detailed enough to provide a direct link with the aircraft, in the form of the aircraft’s livery; or other structural identifiers.
The images were flagged as possible debris from the aircraft by the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation and are located in part of a previously-defined ongoing southern Indian Ocean search area.
A Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion is already in the area and was to be joined by a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion and U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft. Marker buoys are to be deployed in the area to provide what the Australians said would be an ongoing reference point if locating the putative aircraft debris becomes a “protracted” process. A merchant ship in the area was also expected to arrive at the scene shortly.
Young concluded the nearly hour-long press conference by noting that the first step would be to try to verify whether the debris was in fact from the missing aircraft before devising a more detailed search and rescue strategy.