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.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said a revised analysis of radar data prompted it 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, the agency 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, the authority 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, the authority said.
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.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said all 11 planes that headed for the search area in the southern Indian Ocean earlier Thursday were returning to Perth. It said the area about 1,550 miles southwest of Perth was hit by inclement weather that reduced visibility, but added that five ships would stay to try to continue the hunt.
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.