(NEW YORK) — Search crews are scouring the southern Indian Ocean Thursday after two objects that may be related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight were spotted by satellite, officials said Thursday.
Officials described the sighting as the “best lead we have right now” and said four aircraft, a merchant ship and an Australian Navy ship are heading to the region off the coast of Australia.
A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon search plane is involved with the search, occurring about 1,500 miles off of Australia’s coast. ABC News was on board the flight Thursday.
Australia’s government released satellite images of the possible objects on Thursday.
The updates have been deemed “credible enough to divert resources to this area,” said John Young with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Emergency Response Division. The largest of the objects spotted on satellite is about 78 feet long, he said.
“This is a lead, it is probably the best lead we have right now,” Young said.
News of the find prompted Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott to call Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to inform him of the development.
Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur Thursday morning, “Today what I’m comfortable with saying is at least there is a credible lead… That gives us hope. As long as there’s hope, we will continue… To be fair to the families, we must also show we will never, never give up hope.”
The news provided little comfort to the families of the plane’s passengers.
“The one piece of information they want is information we don’t have, is the location of MH370,” Hishammuddin said.
Despite the development, officials are stressing caution, saying the objects will be difficult to find in the vast Indian Ocean and might not be related to Flight 370.
Clouds and rain has limited visibility for Thursday’s search efforts, officials said. A P-3 search plane with the Royal Australian Air Force was unable to locate any debris on Thursday, but other aircraft are continuing the hunt.
Earlier, American and British aviation officials refined satellite signals from the missing plane, creating two possible flight paths that dramatically narrowed the scope of the search.
The plane was carrying 239 people when it disappeared on March 8.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Eliott C. McLaughlin, Holly Yan and Euan McKirdy, CNN Newswire
Paula Newton, CNN Newswire