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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Australia says possible objects in Indian Ocean

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) -- Authorities have spotted two objects in the Indian Ocean that are possibly related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday.

"New and credible information has come to light in relation to the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean," Abbott said in the Australian House of Representatives in Canberra. "The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search.

"Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified," he said. "I can inform the House that a Royal Australian Air Force Orion has been diverted to attempt to locate the objects."

Three other planes will carry out a "more intensive follow-up search," he said.

Australian search teams have been at the forefront of the hunt for the missing plane in the remote southern Indian Ocean.

The announcement from Abbott raises hopes of finding parts of the plane after a search that is now in its 13th day. Previous reports of debris found in the sea have not turned out to be related

But those reports came before the search area was massively expanded into two large arcs, one that heads north into Asia, the other south into the Indian Ocean.

Other pieces of information related to the investigation into the plane's disappearance had emerged Wednesday.

Flight simulator probed

Investigators looking at the flight simulator taken from the home of Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the plane, have discovered that some data had been deleted from it, Malaysia's acting transportation minister said.

What the revelation means is unclear. It could be another dead end in an investigation that has been full of them so far, or it could provide further evidence for the theory that one or more of the flight crew may have been involved in the plane's disappearance 12 days ago.

"It may not tell us anything. It's a step in the process," one U.S. law enforcement source told CNN. "It could be a very insignificant detail in the process."

Investigators have been looking into the background of all 239 passengers and crew members aboard the plane that vanished in the early morning hours of March 8 while en route from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China.

Particular attention has focused on the pilot and first officer on Flight 370, but authorities have yet to come up with any evidence explaining why either of them would have taken the jetliner off course.

Acting Transportation Secretary Hishammuddin Hussein didn't say what had been deleted, but simulation programs can store data from previous sessions for later playback. He also did not say who might have deleted the data.

 

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