Reports from both China and Australia show debris floating in the general vicinity of the potential “southern arc” of Malaysia Air Flight 370, now lost for more than two weeks as the Eastern Hemisphere searches frantically for any clues to its disappearance. China spotted a number of “suspicious objects” floating in a different area of the southern arc than where satellite data suggested debris might be found, and Australia’s search planes spotted other signs of debris as well:

Observers on a Chinese search plane on Monday spotted some “suspicious objects” in the southern Indian Ocean — two large floating objects and many smaller white ones — as the search for the missing Malaysian Airline flight entered its third week.

Separately, crew on an Australian plane were able to see two objects, one circular and one rectangular, in another section of the 42,500-square-mile stretch of the southern Indian Ocean where observers have tried for days to find some sign of the vanished passenger jet.

Until now, possible plane debris has only been seen on satellite images, making Monday’s developments a potentially significant breakthrough for the massive search-and-rescue operation, one of the largest in aviation history.

CNN has some remarks from Malaysia official reacting to these finds, as well as reporting that no trace of the airplane has yet been found on the theoretical “northern arc,” which would have taken Flight 370 into central Asia:

The US Navy was unable to find the objects that the Chinese search team reported. However, the Austrialian find was separate from the Chinese report, and everyone will return to the search after the weather clears. The US team will bring a black-box locator out in case they are near an impact point:

Speaking to the Reuters news agency several hours later, an AMSA spokesperson said a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft was sent to investigate the Chinese reports, but the “P-8 was unable to relocate the reported objects.”

According to AMSA, the items seen by the Australian flight crew were “separate to the objects reported by the Chinese Ilyushin.” …

Rain was expected to hamper the hunt Monday for debris suspected of being from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as the United States prepared to move a specialized device that can locate black boxes into the south Indian Ocean region.

The U.S. Pacific command said it was sending a black box locator in case a debris field is located. The Towed Pinger Locator, which is pulled behind a vessel at slow speeds, has highly sensitive listening capability so that if the wreck site is located, it can hear the black box pinger down to a depth of about 20,000 feet, Cmdr. Chris Budde, a U.S. Seventh Fleet operations officer, said in a statement.

Until the objects can be retrieved, it’s impossible to know whether any of this exists, and whether it relates to Flight 370 or some other debris. The Australian PM took care yesterday to remind people that even if the debris exists, it could be from “anything.” Hopefully, search teams will soon catch up to enough of it in order to certify it or rule it out of the investigation.