By Keith Laing - 03/20/14 09:43 AM EDT
Malaysia Airlines said Thursday that images of debris in the Indian Ocean that Australian officials believe to be remnants of its missing Flight 370 are “credible” but “still to be confirmed.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Thursday that his country had discovered satellite images that could possibly be related to the disappearance of the Malaysia Air flight, which was last seen by air traffic controllers on March 7.
The announcement represented the first potential break in the search for the missing plane, which was carrying 239 passengers, in nearly two weeks.
“As a result of this information, four aircraft have been re-orientated to an area 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth,” the airline said.
“Every effort is being made to locate the objects seen in the satellite imagery,” the Malaysia Air statement continued. “It must be stressed that these sightings, while credible, are still to be confirmed.”
The search for the Malaysia Air plane has lasted almost 2 weeks and involved multiple countries. The plane, which was a Boeing 777, was last contacted by air traffic controllers about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China.
Initial search and rescue efforts were concerted on waters in the Gulf of Thailand, where the plane’s pilots last contacted air traffic controllers.
Officials later came to believe the plane continued flying for several hours with its radar equipment turned off, based on signals that were communicated via satellite by the jet’s engines.
Over the weekend, Malaysian officials said the investigation of Flight 370's disappearance had moved to a "new phrase" that involved looking into the background of the crew members and passengers who were on board the plane.
The disappearance of the flight has touched off speculation about potential causes of the plane’s disappearance, including the possibility of terrorism.