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Jet hunt: Chinese aircraft reports sighting objects in sea

Australia,Crime/Disaster/Accident, Mon, 24 Mar 2014 IANS

Canberra, March 24 (IANS) The search for a Malaysian airliner that went missing March 8 continued in the southern Indian Ocean Monday with a Chinese military aircraft reported sighting some objects in the target area.

According to a Xinhua report from Beijing, the crew of one of the two Chinese IL-76 aircraft tasked for Monday's operations spotted some suspicious objects in the search area.

The crew has reported the coordinates to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which later said via Twitter that "attempts will be made" to search the area.

A Xinhua correspondent aboard the aircraft said the searchers saw two relatively big floating objects with many white smaller ones scattered over a radius of several kilometres.

He added that as the two Chinese planes were heading back, the crew asked the Australians to send in other planes to the area for further examination.

The airborne searchers also relayed the information to Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, which had left Perth on Friday for the search mission.

The Antarctic research vessel then changed course toward the newly identified area and is expected to arrive in the area early Tuesday.

The AMSA, while reiterating it was a "challenging search operation", said in a statement: "The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft in the Australian Search and Rescue Region has resumed this (Monday) morning, with further aircraft joining the operation out of Perth."

"AMSA is using all satellite imagery and information available in its search area development," it added.

Civil aircraft engaged by AMSA and military aircraft from Australia, New Zealand, the US, China and Japan were all assisting in the ongoing search operation to provide the best chance of locating objects captured by satellite imagery with the naked eye, it said.

It said it has tasked 10 aircraft Monday to search for possible objects in the search area about 2,500 km southwest of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur March 8.

The Boeing 777-200ER was initially presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea. The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6.30 a.m. the same day. The 227 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

Contact with the plane was lost along with its radar signal at 1.40 a.m. when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City.

According to the AMSA, Monday's search is split into two areas within the same proximity, covering a cumulative 68,500 sq km.

"Three civil aircraft will be involved in search activities today. These are two Bombardier Global Express planes and an Airbus aircraft," it said in its statement.

"A total of 20 State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers from Western Australia will again be air observers on board the civil aircraft. Ten volunteers will be on board the Airbus, and five volunteers will be on each of the Bombardier Global Express aircraft."

It also stated that all three civil aircraft have an AeroRescue Aviation Mission Coordinator on board. Aerorescue is AMSA's contracted provider of dedicated search and rescue services from locations across Australia.

A US Navy P8 Poseidon was also a part of Monday's search activities, along with two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion aircraft.

The Royal Australiand Navy's HMAS Success remained in the search area, the AMSA said.

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