SYDNEY - The two large objects that are currently the focus of search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370 could well turn out to be pieces of containers that have fallen off cargo ships, dashing the hopes of families who have pinned hopes on a breakthrough from the satellite images given out by Australia on Thursday.
The search for plane, carrying 239 passengers and crew, was to resume on Friday after no sighting was reported on Thursday of the two objects or any MH370 debris.
Malaysia and Australia have described the two objects in the southern Indian Ocean - believed to have been spotted by an American satellite last Sunday - as "credible leads" in the search for the plane that went missing on March 8.
The two main objects - one 24 meters long and the other 5 meters long - are believed to be located in an area about 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth.
But some experts fear that they could be yet another red herring in the nearly two-week-long search that has been marred by false starts.
Mr Peter Marosszky, an aviation expert at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, told the American news agency Associated Press that the pieces could be "some of the thousands of shipping containers that litter the ocean".
Another expert, Mr John Blaxland, a senior fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at Australian National University, told CBC News that he also suspected that the object was a container.
It will be hard to find no matter what it is, he added. "The photo is four days old, and that means the currents would have moved this object, possibly quite a long ways, and not only that, it may have submerged further."
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) explained in a statement released on Thursday as to why the authorities were acting on the satellite images only now, though they were taken on Sunday.
"Due to the volume of imagery being searched, and the detailed process of analysis that followed, the information was brought to the attention of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on Thursday morning," it said.
At a press conference on Thursday, Mr John Young, the General Manager of the emergency response division of AMSA said that the debris was spotted along a busy shipping route and could be containers that had fallen off cargo vessels.
However, the larger object appeared to be longer than a container, he added.
The Australian-led search in the area ended on Thursday night without finding any debris from MH370 or the objects that appeared in the satellite images.
The search will resume on Friday morning, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.