Malaysia plane search intensifies on new debris data

Malaysia plane search intensifies on new debris data

PERTH, Australia - Ships and planes from several nations swarmed over the southern Indian Ocean on Monday as mounting evidence of floating debris energised the search for Malaysia's missing passenger jet.

But the challenge of recovering the elusive and still-unidentified flotsam took on added urgency as a tropical cyclone loomed to the north, threatening to worsen already rough conditions that have thwarted spotters.

China said Monday that one of its aircraft scouring the area had seen "suspicious" debris, adding to an Australian aircraft's visual sighting Saturday of a wooden pallet alongside strapping and other debris.

France and China both released satellite information at the weekend that also indicated floating objects far off Australia's west coast - buoying hopes of a breakthrough in the more than two-week-old puzzle.

A growing international fleet of military and civilian aircraft has converged on the region, supported by Australian and British naval vessels tasked with retrieving any objects from the forbidding waters.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished without warning on March 8 after suddenly veering off course over the South China Sea en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew.

'Clutching' at information

China's Xinhua news agency said searchers spotted "two relatively big floating objects with many white smaller ones scattered within a radius of several kilometres", citing a reporter aboard a Chinese aircraft.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said attempts would be made to reach the objects.

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss cautioned against false hopes in a search that has hit a number of dead ends.

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