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Search for Malaysian Plane Shifts Following 'Credible Lead'

Australian authorities say the search for the missing Malaysian jetliner has shifted more than a thousand kilometers northeast in the Indian Ocean following the emergence of a new "credible lead."

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority says investigators have determined the plane was travelling faster and expending fuel quicker than previously estimated, reducing the distance it flew.

AMSA General Manager John Young said Friday the information is the "most credible lead" so far in the search for the wreckage, but warned there is "a long way to go yet."



"This is the normal business of search and rescue operations - that new information comes to light, refined analysis take you to a different place. I don't count the original work a waste of time."



In a statement, the AMSA said the new search area is 1,850 kilometers west of the southwestern Australian city of Perth. It encompasses about 319,000 kilometers.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said given ocean drift, the new location could still be consistent with possible debris spotted in satellite photos over the past week near the old search location.

Hishammuddin also said Malaysia has received fresh satellite images from Thai and Japanese authorities showing more possible objects in the old search location. He did not specify when the photos were taken.

The extremely remote search location and bad weather at sea have kept authorities from reaching the possible debris from the Malaysian airliner, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board.



Weather conditions have improved since Thursday, when search planes were forced to fly back to Australia. Australian authorities say 10 aircraft are involved in Friday's mission. Six boats are also relocating to the area.

Once wreckage is found, the search effort will then focus on finding the plane's flight data recorder, or black box, which should provide clues about what went wrong.

Malaysian officials believe, based on a complex analysis of satellite data, that the Boeing 777 almost certainly crashed into the sea, far from any land.

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