CANBERRA - Four Chinese vessels, an Australian navy ship and five aircraft have reached the search area in Indian Ocean for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
“Four Chinese ships are now in #MH370 search area with HMAS Success. Five aircraft on scene,’’ the Australia Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.
AMSA, which is coordinating the search involving six nations, said earlier that a total of seven military and five civilian aircraft will scour the area for debris from the jetliner which Malaysia said had crashed in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.
Xinhua news agency reported earlier that three Chinese warships and an icebreaker had arrived at the site west of Perth. The warships - consisting of supply ship Qiandaohu, missile destroyer Haikou and amphibious transport dock Kunlunshan - are searching an area about 29,000 sq km that is near 96 degrees east longitude and 43 degrees south latitude.
Chinese icebreaker Xuelong had also arrived in the area where Chinese airborne searchers spotted some suspicious objects on Monday, said Xinhua.
The crews combined visual search with other means such as radar and optical equipment, and sent helicopters up to carry out airborne observation.
If Wednesday’s search ends up with nothing suspicious, the flotilla will move into the next phase when the ships will comb the area back and forth for five times to ensure that no clue is overlooked. according to Xinhua.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday night confirmed that flight MH370, which vanished on March 8 while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
Citing satellite data analysis by British company Inmarsat, he said there was no doubt the Boeing 777 came down in one of the most remote places on Earth - an implicit admission that all 239 people on board had died.
While numerous floating objects have been seen by satellite images and spotter planes in the search zone, none has been positively identified as coming from the missing jet.
Recovery of wreckage could unlock clues about why the plane had diverted so far off course. Theories range from a hijacking to sabotage or a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.