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Ships search for debris from missing Malaysian plane

PERTH, Australia — Objects spotted floating in a new search area for debris from the missing Malaysian jetliner need to be recovered and inspected before they can be linked to the plane, Australian officials said today.

Eight planes were ready to comb the newly targeted area off the west coast of Australia after several objects were seen Friday, including two rectangular items that were blue and gray, and ships on the scene will attempt to recover them, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

"The objects cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships," the authority said. "It is not known how much flotsam, such as from fishing activities, is ordinarily there. At least one distinctive fishing object has been identified."

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said a cold front would bring rain, low clouds and reduced visibility over the southern part of the search area, with moderate winds and swells of up to 6 feet. Conditions should improve a bit Sunday.

Newly analyzed satellite data shifted the search zone Friday, raising hopes searchers may be closer to getting physical evidence that Flight 370, bound from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, crashed in the Indian Ocean on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

The newly targeted zone is nearly 700 miles northeast of sites the searchers have crisscrossed for the past week. The redeployment came after analysts determined that the jet may have been traveling faster than earlier estimates and would therefore have run out of fuel sooner, officials said.

During the earlier search, hundreds of objects were seen in the water by satellites, but so far not one has been confirmed as being from the missing Boeing 777.

The shift to the new zone could be a break for searchers because it is a shorter flight from land and has much calmer weather than the remote stretch previously targeted.

But Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Sydney the job of locating the debris still was difficult.

The new search area is about 80 percent smaller than the old one, but still spans about 123,000 square miles, roughly the size of Poland.

Ships search for debris from missing Malaysian plane 03/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 11:28pm]

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