Satellite imagery of debris that could belong to the missing Malaysia Airlines jet has turned up no new leads as to the whereabouts of Flight 370 and its 239 passengers.
Twenty-five countries are now participating in the search across a massive swath of ocean that extends from southern Asia almost down to the South Pole. Search planes, including two U.S. military aircraft, continue to comb the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean down toward Australia to find the aircraft, now missing for two weeks.
An Australian satellite found two large floating objects five days ago roughly halfway between the coast of Australia and the Antarctic, but so far rescue efforts have been unable to track them down. It remains unclear how far the objects could have drifted or if they are even still at the surface of the ocean.
“Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating – it may have slipped to the bottom,” said Warren Truss, Australia's acting prime minister while Tony Abbott visits Papua New Guinea. “It's also certain that any debris or other material would have moved a significant distance over that time, potentially hundreds of kilometers.”
"The last report I have is that nothing of particular significance has been identified in the search today but the work will continue," he said, according to The Associated Press.
Abbot met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and later described the search region as “about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the Earth.”
“If there is anything down there we will find it,” he said. “We owe it to the families of those people to do no less," Abbott said.
The U.S. has deployed a P-3 Orion and a P-8 Poseidon, both surveillance aircraft, to help with the search off the coast of Australia.
The P-3 has been assigned a search area roughly 1,500 miles due west of Perth, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday. It has enough fuel to remain within the search area for 9 hours before it must return back to its Australian base, he said.
The Pentagon pulled the USS Kidd, a guided-missile destroyer, from the search, but says it has offered other support to the Malaysian government.
“If we can provide it, if we can help them, we are helping them,” said spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby on Thursday. “We’re going to stay with this as long as the Malaysians need our help.”
The U.S. has provided information and data assistance, he said, as well as other classified support.
“Some of those tools we don’t talk about,” Kirby said.
Meanwhile, families of the missing passengers, many of whom are from China, have been staying at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur waiting to receive any news on the disappearance of their loved ones in daily press briefings there. The Daily Mail reported Thursday that a paramedic team was seen entering the hotel’s ballroom, which has become the de facto meeting room.
Reuters reports the families may have to change hotels to make space for crews participating in the Malaysian grand prix Formula One race..
The group of family members has erupted into emotional protests this week over concerns of a lack of transparency from the Malaysian government. Some of them believe the government is withholding information, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Norwegian cargo ship Hoegh St. Petersburg is also participating in the search. The ship usually transports cars and was traveling from South Africa to Australia.
Three Chinese naval ships were headed to the region, as are more ships from Australia.
Malaysian authorities have not yet determined the cause of the crash, or provided explanations for the mysterious maneuvers before the plane went off radar. Investigating authorities have not ruled out a hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or potential mental health issues among the pilots, according to the AP.