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Flight MH370: Australia spots possible plane debris, search to resume Friday

WATCH ABOVE: Military search planes flew over a remote part of the Indian Ocean on Thursday hunting for debris in “probably the best lead” so far in finding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

LATEST UPDATES: 

  • Australia sends planes to check possible objects from missing plane
  • U.S. company provides Australia with satellite imagery 
  • Malaysia says files were recently deleted from home flight simulator of pilot aboard missing jet
  • FBI analyzing flight simulator data in Malaysia
  • Relatives of passengers demand answers

Military search planes flew over a remote part of the Indian Ocean well off Perth, Australia, to determine whether two large objects spotted by satellite are debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The planes searched an area about 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth on Thursday before ending for the day. Officials say the search will resume again on Friday.

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READ MORE: U.S. company provides Australia satellite imagery of possible debris

Australian officials cautioned that the objects may have nothing to do with the missing flight. Poor visibility hampered search efforts for one of the search planes.

The search for objects could take time and last as long as a few weeks, not days.

WATCH: Malaysian officials hopeful about latest lead

Flight MH370 had 239 people on board when it disappeared March 8 while flying from Malaysia to China.

‘This is a lead, it’s probably the best lead we have right now’ 

John Young, manager of Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s emergency response division, said that one of the objects spotted by satellite imagery had a dimension of 24 metres (almost 80 feet) in length and the other one 5 metres (15 feet).

He said there could also be other objects in waters nearby.

Second satellite image released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority shows possible debris from missing Malaysian jet.
Second satellite image released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority shows possible debris from missing Malaysian jet. Handout/Australian Maritime Safety Authority

“This is a lead, it’s probably the best lead we have right now,” Young told a news conference in Canberra, Australia’s capital.

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Young said that that the objects could be seaborne debris along a shipping route where containers can fall off cargo vessels. The larger object, however, is longer than an average container.

WATCH: Former NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker on what’s next as crews zero in on that potential debris.

READ MORE: Flight MH370: Thai Air Force says radar signal may have been missing plane

Planes had been sent to the area about 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth to check on the objects.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority released two images of the whitish objects floating on or just under the surface but warned that satellite images “do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, so we will hold our views on that until they are sighted close-up.”

U.S. company provides Australia satellite imagery of possible debris

In an e-mail to Global News, DigitalGlobe said it can confirm that it gave the images to search officials in Australia.

“We have been informed by an Australian government official that it was our imagery Prime Minister Abbott referred to in his recent comments,” said the statement. “We do not have any additional information at this time, as relevant search parties follow-up on this important lead.”

WATCH: Australian search and rescue pilots discuss the search for missing Malaysian jet

DigitalGlobe said it will continue to cooperate with authorities and  provide any and all information at their disposal” to assist the search.”

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Just last week, the company asked the public to search for clues for the missing jet that disappeared without a trace more than a week ago and provided high-resolution images that were taken nearly 640 km (or 400 miles) above Earth.

The company made the images available on Tomnod, a website that encourages the public to sift through satellite images in order “to explore the Earth and solve real-world problems.”

FBI analyzing flight simulator data in Malaysia 

In the meantime, the Malaysian government is seeking help from the FBI after some flight data was reportedly deleted from the home flight simulator of one of the pilots of the missing Malaysian plane.

READ MORE: Flight MH370: What if missing plane is never found?

The two have joined forces to analyze the deleted electronic data.

VIDEO: Malaysia calls in FBI for help

Malaysia’s defence minister said investigators are trying to restore files deleted Feb. 3 from the simulator used by the pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah and that the pilot is innocent until proven guilty.

Deleting files would not necessarily represent anything unusual, especially if it were to free up memory space, but investigators would want to check the files for any signs of unusual flight paths that could help explain where the missing plane went.

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‘Not ruling out any explanations’

Malaysian authorities have not ruled out any possible explanations, but have said the evidence so far suggests the flight was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca.

MORE: Flight MH370: What if missing plane is never found?

They are unsure what happened next.

VIDEO: Aviation expert wonders how missing Malaysia airlines plane could have evaded radar

Police are considering the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board, and have asked for background checks from abroad on all foreign passengers.

Relatives of passengers demand answers

Frustrated Chinese families of passengers said on Wednesday they will set up a “self-help” committee, urging the Malaysian government to send representatives to Beijing to brief them.

READ MORE: Anger, heartbreak as families of missing jet passengers demand answers

The development comes after daily meetings between the airline and relatives in Beijing have left families frustrated at the lack of new information.

“We want Malaysia to send government representatives to attend the meeting with families,” said Mr Wen, the father of one of the missing passengers.

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“Only the government can answer our questions about where the plane is and where our families are,” he added.

– with files from The Associated Press