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Flight 370 search shifts after new look at data

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Royal Australia Air Force C-17 lands at RAAF Base Pearce to deliver a Sea Hawk helicopter to help with the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Perth, Australia, Friday, March 28, 2014. Australian officials moved the search area for the lost Malaysian jetliner 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast Friday, following a new analysis of radar data, and a plane quickly found objects that a ship set out to investigate. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Royal Australia Air Force C-17 lands at RAAF Base Pearce to deliver a Sea Hawk helicopter to help with the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Perth, Australia, Friday, March 28, 2014. Australian officials moved the search area for the lost Malaysian jetliner 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast Friday, following a new analysis of radar data, and a plane quickly found objects that a ship set out to investigate. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, right, answers a reporter’s question as Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. left, listens during a press conference for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday March 28, 2014. The search area for the lost Malaysian jetliner moved 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast on Friday, as Australian officials said a new analysis of radar data suggests the plane had flown faster and therefore ran out of fuel more quickly than previously estimated. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Royal Australia Air Force C-17 lands at RAAF Base Pearce to deliver a Sea Hawk helicopter to help with the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Perth, Australia, Friday, March 28, 2014. Australian officials moved the search area for the lost Malaysian jetliner 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast Friday, following a new analysis of radar data, and a plane quickly found objects that a ship set out to investigate. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Ahmad Nizar Zolfakar, Director of Air Traffic Management Sector, Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation, third from left follows the Malaysian ambassador Iskandar Sarudin, center as they leave after a meeting with relatives of Chinese passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines plane, MH370 at a hotel in Beijing, China, Friday, March 28, 2014. Relatives left the meeting en masse after claiming the lack of meaningful answers from the Malaysian delegation. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Ground crew unload a Sea Hawk helicopter from a Royal Australia Air Force C-17 after it landed at RAAF Base Pearce to help with the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia, Friday, March 28, 2014. Australian officials moved the search area for the lost Malaysian jetliner 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast Friday, following a new analysis of radar data, and a plane quickly found objects that a ship set out to investigate. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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PERTH, Australia (AP) — Three weeks into the mystery of Flight 370, investigators relying on newly analyzed satellite data shifted the search zone yet again, focusing on a swath of Indian Ocean where better conditions could help speed a hunt that is now concentrated thousands of miles from where it began.

Planes combing the newly targeted area off the west coast of Australia spotted several objects Friday, including two rectangular items that were blue and gray, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said. Although those are part of the colors of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, it was not clear if they were from the plane.

The newly targeted zone is nearly 700 miles northeast of sites the searchers have crisscrossed for the past week. The redeployment came after analysts determined that the jet may have been traveling faster than earlier estimates and would therefore have run out of fuel sooner, officials said.

“This is a credible new lead and will be thoroughly investigated,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

The Australian maritime agency will analyze photos of the objects seen in the area, and a Chinese patrol ship will try to locate them Saturday, officials said.

During the search, hundreds of objects have been seen in the water by satellites, but so far not a single one has been confirmed as being from missing Boeing 777.

New Zealand Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short said a search plane had spotted 11 objects Friday clustered in a small area about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) west of Perth.

One appeared to be a fishing buoy but the others were white, rectangular in shape and floating just below the surface, he said Saturday. Each was no larger than a meter (3 feet) in length.

“Our crew couldn’t identify anything that would say it was definitely from the Malaysian aircraft,” Short said. “I think the main issue is that those objects will have to be picked up by a ship so they can physically examine them.”

The shift to the new zone could be a break for searchers because it is a shorter flight from land and has much calmer weather than the remote stretch previously targeted.

“It is a different ballpark,” said Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at New South Wales University. “Where they are searching now is more like a subtropical ocean. It is not nearly as bad as the southern Indian Ocean, which should make the search easier.”

But in Malaysia, Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein cautioned that while the conditions had improved, they remained challenging and the area “although more focused than before, remains considerable.”

The new search area is about 80 percent smaller than the old one, but still spans about 123,000 square miles, (319,000 square kilometers), roughly the size of New Mexico (Poland). In most places, depths range from about 6,560 feet (2,000 meters) to 13,120 feet (4,000 meters), although the much deeper Diamantina trench edges the search area.

Flight 370 disappeared March 8 while bound from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The hunt focused first on the Gulf

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