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Planes spot objects after search for lost Malaysian jet shifts north

An Australian Air Force serviceman watches as an Australian Air Force C-17 taxis on the tarmac of the RAAF Base Pearce near Perth, March 28, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed1 / 17
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Flight Lieutenant Russell Adams looks out from the flight deck of a AP-3C Orion as he flies over the southern Indian Ocean, participating in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Australian Defence Force2 / 17
Member of staff at satellite communications company Inmarsat point to a section of the screen showing the southern Indian Ocean to the west of Australia, at their headquarters in London March 25, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Winning3 / 17
Family members of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 attempt to push past policemen during a protest, near Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 25, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon4 / 17
Able Seaman Emma Searle works in an operations room of the Australian Navy ship, the HMAS Success, in a search area for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force March 24, 2014. REUTERS/Australian Defence Force5 / 17
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion crew members unload equipment after returning from a search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean, at RAAF Base Pearce north of Perth, Australia, March 21, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed6 / 17
Satellite imagery provided to Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) of objects that may be possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in a revised area 185 km (115 miles) to the south east of the original search area in this picture released by AMSA March 20, 2014. REUTERS/Australian Maritime Safety Authority7 / 17
A Chinese family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 screams as she is being brought into a room outside the media conference area at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 19, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su8 / 17
A Royal Australian Air Force pilot of an AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft scans the surface of the sea near the west of Peninsula Malaysia in this handout picture by the Royal Australian Air Force, released via the Australian government's Department of Defence website on March 17, 2014. REUTERS/Royal Australian Air Force9 / 17
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (C) speaks during a news conference about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su10 / 17
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows two maps with corridors of the last known possible location of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane as he addresses reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj11 / 17
Military officers Phung Truong Son (L), Vu Duc Long (C) and Pham Minh Tuan discuss a map of a search area before their departure to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a military airport in Ho Chi Minh city March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Kham12 / 17
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd and USS Pinckney are seen en transit in the Pacific Ocean in this U.S. Navy picture taken May 18, 2011. Kidd and Pinkney have been searching for the missing Malaysian airliner and are being re-deployed to the Strait of Malacca of Malaysia's west coast as new search areas are opened in the Indian Ocean, according to officials on March 13, 2014. REUTERS/US Navy/Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo13 / 17
A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force uses binoculars onboard a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said14 / 17
Members on a Search and Rescue ship look at a map of the Straits of Malacca as they hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, in the Malacca Straits March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Junaidi Hanafiah15 / 17
A Vietnamese helicopter taxies at Phu Quoc Airport before being utilised in the mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Phu Quoc Island, March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha16 / 17
Family members of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 raise their fists as they shout "return our families" to protest against the lack of new information after a routine briefing given by Malaysia's government and military representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee17 / 17

By Jane Wardell and Rujun Shen

SYDNEY/KUALA LUMPUR - An air and sea search for a missing Malaysian passenger jet moved 1,100 km (685 miles) north on Friday, after Australian authorities coordinating the operation in the remote Indian Ocean received new information from Malaysia that suggested the plane ran out of fuel earlier than thought.

The dramatic shift in the search area, moving it further than the distance between London and Berlin, followed analysis of radar and satellite data that showed the missing plane had traveled faster than had been previously calculated, and so would have burned through its fuel load quicker.

Australia said late on Friday that five aircraft had spotted "multiple objects of various colors" in the new search area.

"Photographic imagery of the objects was captured and will be assessed overnight," the Australian Maritime and Safety Authority (AMSA) said in a statement.

"The objects cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships."

The latest twist underscores the perplexing and frustrating hunt for evidence in the near three-week search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour into a Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight.

Malaysia says the plane was likely diverted deliberately but investigators have turned up no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or the 12 crew.

Malaysian officials said the new search area was the result of a painstaking analysis of Malaysian military radar data and satellite readings from British company Inmarsat carried out by U.S., Chinese, British and Malaysian investigators.

Engine performance analysis by the plane's manufacturer Boeing helped investigators determine how long the plane could have flown before it ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean, they said.

"Information which had already been examined by the investigation was re-examined in light of new evidence drawn from the Inmarsat data analysis," Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference.

Aircraft Re-Directed

For more than a week, ships and surveillance planes have been scouring seas 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, where satellite images had shown possible debris from Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8.

Ten aircraft searching on Friday were immediately re-directed to the new area of 319,000 sq km (123,000 sq miles), roughly the size of Poland, around 1,850 km (1,150 miles) west of Perth. The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation was also redirecting satellites there, AMSA said.

A flotilla of Australian and Chinese ships would take longer to shift north, however, with the Australian naval ship the HMAS Success not due to arrive until Saturday morning.

The new search area is larger, but closer to Perth, allowing aircraft to spend longer on site by shortening travel times. It is also vastly more favorable in terms of the weather as it is out of the deep sea region known as the Roaring 40s for its huge seas and frequent storm-force winds.

"I'm not sure that we'll get perfect weather out there, but it's likely to be better more often than what we've seen in the past," John Young, general manager of the emergency response division of Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), told reporters, adding the previous search site was being abandoned.

"We have moved on from those search areas to the newest credible lead," he said.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said earlier that the shift was based on analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. At that time, the Boeing 777 was making a radical diversion west from its course.

Malaysia's civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said at Friday's news conference he was "not at liberty" to give the exact path of the aircraft. Officials close to the investigation told Reuters last week that the plane may have passed close to Port Blair, the capital of India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 550 miles further northwest from where Malaysia has said its military radar last detected it.

Satellite Images

The shift comes less than a day after the latest reports of sightings of possible wreckage, captured by Thai and Japanese satellites in roughly the same frigid expanse of sea as earlier images reported by France, Australia and China.

Images had shown suspected debris, including pieces as large as 24 metres (70 ft), within the original search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

Potential debris has also been seen from search aircraft, but none has been picked up or confirmed as the wreckage of Flight MH370.

Hishammuddin said it was still possible that those objects were debris from the plane, as any wreckage could have been swept hundreds of miles from the crash site by now.

"Because of ocean drift, this new search area could still be consistent with the potential objects identified by various satellite images over the past week," he said.

The U.S. Navy said on Friday it was sending a second P8-Poseidon, its most advanced maritime surveillance aircraft, to help in the search.

"It's critical to continue searching for debris so we can reverse-forecast the wind, current and sea state since March 8 to recreate the position where MH370 possibly went into the water," said Commander Tom Moneymaker, a U.S. 7th Fleet oceanographer.

The United States has also sent a device that can be towed behind a ship to pick up faint pings from the plane's black box voice and data recorders, but time is running out.

"We've got to get this initial position right prior to deploying the Towed Pinger Locator since the MH370's black box has a limited battery life and we can't afford to lose time searching in the wrong area," Moneymaker said.

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