A Chinese search plane looking for missing flight MH370 finds “suspicious objects”, according to China’s official news agency.
The crew of the Chinese Ilyushin-76 plane spotted “white and square” floating objects dispersed over several kilometres, Xinhua said.
They included two “relatively big” objects and several smaller ones scattered within a radius of “several kilometres”.
“The crew has reported the co-ordinates – 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 added.
Earlier, Xinhua said a Chinese military plane set off early this morning from the western Australian city of Perth to find “suspicious debris” captured by satellite imagery in the remote waters.
It comes as a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 271 people from Malaysia to South Korea was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Hong Kong this morning after a technical fault.
Flight MH066 was diverted “due to an inoperative aircraft generator which supplies normal electrical power” on the Airbus A330-300, the airline said in a statement.
“However, electrical power continued to be supplied by the Auxiliary Power Unit,” the company added, giving no further details on the technical problem.
The US Navy has announced it is sending one of its high-tech black box detectors to the southern Indian Ocean being scoured for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
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 20,000ft (6,100 metres).
The navy called the move a “precautionary measure” in case those sightings confirm the location of the aircraft which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.
US Seventh Fleet Operations Officer Commander Chris Budde said in a statement: “If debris is found we will be able to respond as quickly as possible since the battery life of the black box’s pinger is limited.”
Meanwhile, Australian authorities are continuing to analyse French satellite images showing potential floating debris in the southern search area around 1,500 miles (2,500km) southwest of Perth.
It is the third possible sighting of debris in the area and occurred almost 600 miles north of the last report from the Chinese.
Speaking about the French sighting, Australian deputy prime minister Warren Truss said: “That’s not in the area that had been identified as the most likely place where the aircraft may have entered the sea. But having said all that we’ve got to check out all the options.”
On Saturday, the Chinese government released a satellite image showing a large floating object.
That object, measuring 74ft (22.5 metres) by 43ft (13 metres), was photographed on Tuesday just 75 miles from where two other potential pieces of debris were spotted by an Australian satellite.
Ten aircraft and the Australian Navy ship HMAS Success are now involved in fifth day of searching for debris.
Heavy rain is expected to hamper efforts and a cyclone bearing down on Australia’s northwest coast could also stir up severe weather.
Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss said “nothing of note” was found on Sunday, which he described as a “fruitless day”.