KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Australian officials shifted their search for the missing Malaysian jetliner by nearly 700 miles, citing "a new credible lead'' about the path of the aircraft and where debris may be located.
Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Air Transport Safety Bureau, said a revised analysis of radar data prompted the agency to refocus the search in the Indian Ocean off Perth. The analysis indicates that the plane was flying faster than previously estimated between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost, Dolan said.
Based on that new speed data, analysts calculated increased fuel usage and a reduced distance the aircraft could have covered with power.
The new search area is approximately 198,000 square miles in size and 1,150 miles west of Perth, John Young, manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's emergency response division said. The move, about 685 miles to the northeast of the previous search area, was based on updated advice from an international investigation team working with the search, Young said.
The new location is also based on an assessment by Australian experts, the United States Coast Guard and commercial companies that took into account the weather and the drift any wreckage would be expected to have taken in the 21 days since the plane went missing.
All of these calculations are best estimates and, "will remain a somewhat inexact science," Dolan cautioned.
Young said the team had "moved on" from the previous search area and that the hunt for the missing plane was no longer active there.
Ten aircraft from six countries are being deployed to the new search area, Young said. Four of them are already in the vicinity and six more will arrive later on Friday.
The search area to the north is not expected to face the same rough weather that forced several delays in the hunt for debris further to the south.
Earlier, a Thai satellite detected about 300 objects floating in the Indian Ocean a day after a French satellite showed that 122 objects were floating near the search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner.
Anond Snidvongs, director of Thailand's space technology development agency, said Thursday that the images showed "300 objects of various sizes" in the southern Indian Ocean about 1,675 miles southwest of Perth.
Anond said the objects were about 125 miles from the area where a French satellite Sunday spotted 122 objects. It remains uncertain whether the objects are from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard.
For the first time in several weeks, Malaysian officials decided not to hold a daily news conference Thursday.
Earlier, searchers aboard planes and ships on Thursday failed to find any of the objects captured by satellite as possible debris from the downed Malaysian airlines jet, as heavy rain, winds and low clouds forced the aircraft to return to the base after only a few hours.
On Wednesday, a high-ranking officer attached to a special investigative branch of the Malaysia police force in Kuala Lumpur told USA TODAY that investigators are pressing relatives of the pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, for information on his behavior leading up to the March 8 flight.
The pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, 53-year Zaharie Ahmad Shah, is believed to be solely responsible for the flight being taken hundreds of miles off course and there is no evidence of a mechanical failure or hijacking by a passenger, according to an law enforcement official involved in the investigation.
His son, Ahmad Seth, told the New Straits Times that he dismisses wild speculation that his father was a political fanatic who may have hijacked the plane.
"I've read everything online," Seth tells the newspaper. "But I've ignored all the speculation. I know my father better.
"We may not be as close as he travels so much. But I understand him," the 26-year-old language student said in an interview in Subang Jaya, Malaysia.
Appearing composed but tired, he told the Times that "we are just waiting for the right confirmation" of wreckage or bodies.
"I will believe it (that there are no survivors) when I see the proof in front of my eyes," he said.
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Contributing: William M. Welch in Los Angeles; Associated Press