SYDNEY/PERTH - An Australian navy ship was close to finding possible debris from a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner on Monday as a mounting number of sightings of floating objects raised hopes wreckage of the plane may soon be found.
The HMAS Success should reach two objects spotted by Australian military aircraft by Tuesday morning at the latest, Malaysia's government said, offering the first chance of picking up suspected debris from the plane.
So far, ships in the international search effort have been unable to locate several "suspicious" objects spotted by satellites in grainy images or by fast-flying aircraft over a vast search area in the remote southern Indian Ocean.
"HMAS Success is on scene and is attempting to locate and recover these objects," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who called his Malaysia counterpart Najib Razak to inform him of the sighting, said in a statement to parliament.
The objects, described as a "grey or green circular object" and an "orange rectangular object", were spotted about 2,500 km west of Perth on Monday afternoon, said Abbott, adding that three planes were also en route to the area.
Neither Malaysia nor Australia gave details on the objects' size.
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people on board on March 8. No confirmed sighting of the plane has been made since and there is no clue what went wrong.
Attention and resources in the search for the Boeing 777 have shifted from an initial focus north of the Equator to an increasingly narrowed stretch of rough sea in the southern Indian Ocean, thousands of miles from the original flight path.
Earlier on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency said a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft spotted two "relatively big" floating objects and several smaller white ones dispersed over several kilometres.