MH370: Chinese icebreaker 'Snow Dragon' en route to 'suspicious objects'

MH370: Chinese icebreaker 'Snow Dragon' en route to 'suspicious objects'
China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft taxiing at RAAF Base Pearce to join the search for fight MH370 over the Indian Ocean. --AFP PHOTO / AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE/ABIS JULIANNE CROPLEY
KUALA LUMPUR: Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or 'Snow Dragon', is now on its way to the sea area where a crew of a Chinese military aircraft spotted some 'suspicious objects' in the southern Indian Ocean on Monday.

Earlier, the Chinese IL-76 plane reported the sighting of "white and square" objects during its search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 off Australia.

The correspondent from Chinese state news agency Xinhua, on board the IL-76, reported the objects at the coordinates -- 95.1113 degrees east longitude and 42.5453 south altitude.

The correspondent added that they were two 'relatively big floating objects' with many white smaller ones scattered within a radius of several kilometers.

The location was also reported to the Australian command center.
Meanwhile, Reuters this afternoon reported that the Chinese government could not confirm that objects spotted were connected with the missing jetliner.

The comments were made by China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, who also said that Chinese ships are expected to start arriving on Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, the Chinese military plane took off from Perth in search of the suspicious debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.

The Chinese Air Force Ilyushin IL-76 plane left RAAF Base Pearce and it will make a stop at the Perth international airport to refuel before moving out to the sea.

This is the first Chinese air search operation in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing plane since two Chinese military aircraft arrived in Perth on Saturday.

The Chinese search operation is part of an international hunt involving 26 countries for MH370.

The focus of the multinational search has shifted to the southern Indian Ocean after Australia said Thursday that satellite imagery identified suspicious debris that might be linked to the missing plane in waters some 2,400 km from Perth.

China and France, on Saturday and Sunday respectively, also spotted suspicious objects possibly linked to the missing plane in the southern Indian Ocean through satellite imagery.

Their findings appeared to have validated the Australian lead and raised the possibility of finally locating the missing plane more than two weeks after it mysteriously disappeared from radar en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

A total of 239 people were on board, including 154 Chinese passengers.

Initial search efforts were once concentrated in the South China Sea where the plane last contacted with air traffic controllers.

But satellite and radar data later indicated the plane had made a turn to the west and was probably somewhere in the so-called two corridors -- the northern one stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and the southern one stretching from Indonesia to the southern India Ocean.

Even if the international search locates the plane, analysts believe it could still take months or even years to unravel the mystery why such a high-tech aircraft deviated from its planned path and landed somewhere thousands of kilometers away from its original destination.