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Australia expresses hope in hunt for MH370

PM voices confidence in determining fate of Malaysian jet, after debris spotted in area flagged by satellite image.

Last updated: 23 Mar 2014 06:52
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Australia's prime minister has expressed hope in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, after debris was spotted that is consistent with satellite images released by China.

Tony Abbott voiced confidence in the search effort on Sunday after unidentified debris was seen by air observers on a civil aircraft during Saturday's mission.

"Yesterday, one of our civilian search aircraft got visuals on a number of objects in a fairly small area in the overall Australian search zone," Abbott said. .

March 16, 2014 satellite image of floating debris

 "It's still too early to be definite, but obviously we have now had a number of very credible leads and there is increasing hope - no more than hope, no more than hope - that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft," he added

Several small objects were identified 2,500km off Australia's west coast, according to a statement released by the country's Maritime Safety Authority.

The objects were spotted just 120km from where a March 16 satellite image showed debris, an image which refocused search efforts to the remote area of the Indian Ocean.

Abbott said debris spotted in the area include what looks like a wooden pallet.

Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas, reporting from Perth in western Australia, said Abbot's latest announcement marks a significant progress in the search effort.

"You would think that he would he would be fairly confident that there was a positive move in the search," he said.

Sunday's search has been split into two areas, covering 59,000sq/km of ocean thousands of kilometres off the coast of Perth, the authority said.

Our correspondent said that seven of eight aircrafts have left to return to the area in the Indian Ocean to resume the search. 

Beijing and Tokyo both sent two aircraft to join the six already involved in the operation backed by the US and New Zealand.

"Obviously the more aircraft we have, the more ships we have, the more confident we are of recovering whatever material is down there" Abbott said.

A total of 20 emergency service volunteers from western Australia will act as observers during Sunday's mission.

In Beijing, relatives of Chinese passengers, who are waiting for news about their missing plane, accused Malaysian officials of being "deceitful", adding that the meetings were a "waste of time," Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reported.

Relatives said they feel Malaysian officials know more than they are saying, our correspondent added.

The Malaysian Airlines plane went missing three weeks ago.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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