Forget all those satellite photos showing promising patches of debris. The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has moved again.
In a stunning turn, Australian authorities announced Friday that they were abandoning the remote region of Indian Ocean where search crews had spent more than a week looking for the plane. A new analysis of satellite data showed the plane could not have flown that far south, they said.
“We have moved on from those search areas,” said John Young, general manager of emergency response for the Australian maritime authority.
The new zone is 680 miles (about 1,100 kilometers) to the northeast, closer to the Australian coast.
In what could be a sign the search is on the right track, or possibly yet another letdown, the agency said five of the 10 planes dispatched to the new search zone spotted objects in the waters below. Crews took photographs of the objects, and those images will be analyzed overnight, the authority said.
“The objects cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships,” the authority said in a statement.
A Chinese vessel is being sent to recover some of the objects Saturday, the authority said.
A New Zealand air force surveillance plane flying over the new search area spotted unidentified objects floating in the water and was returning to its base in Perth, Australia, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said on Twitter.
The agency was waiting for images of the objects for analysis but said the finds would not be confirmed until Saturday, when a ship is expected to arrive at the site.
Exactly what the plane had found was unclear, but if the finds turn out to be something other than plane debris, it would not be the first time.
A Chinese aircraft reported spotting possible aircraft debris early in the search, but that sighting turned out to be nothing.