Chinese aircrew report seeing ‘suspicious objects’ in southern Indian Ocean

Chinese aircrew have spotted "suspicious objects" in the southern Indian Ocean in the search for vanished Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the official Xinhua news agency said today.

Searchers discovered "two relatively big floating objects with many white smaller ones scattered within a radius of several kilometres", Xinhua said, citing a reporter on board a Chinese Ilyushin-76 plane.

The larger objects were "white and square", it added.

"The crew has reported the coordinates – 95.1113 degrees east and 42.5453 south – to the Australian command centre as well as Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, which is en route to the sea area," Xinhua said.

The Xuelong has now changed course towards the latest sighting, the news agency said in a subsequent report.

Earlier Xinhua reports said a Chinese military plane set off thismorning from the western Australian city of Perth to seek "suspicious debris" captured by satellite imagery in the remote waters.

Flight MH370 disappeared from civilian radar 17 days ago, nearly an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.

Chinese passengers comprised two-thirds of the 239 people aboard the Boeing 777.

According to Xinhua, two Chinese planes that had been searching the area were returning to Perth, and the crew had asked Australia to send more aircraft to the area.

An Australian-led international search team is scouring an area in the southern Indian Ocean some 2,500km southwest of Perth.

Attention and resources in the search for the Boeing 777-200ER (9M-MRO) have shifted in recent days from an initial focus north of the equator to an increasingly narrowed stretch of icy sea in the southern Indian Ocean.

Chinese and Japanese military aircraft were joining a 10-strong international fleet of planes scouring the area for the first time today, reports Reuters. – March 24, 2014.