Perth (Australia): A Chinese plane crew spotted a white, square-shaped object in an area identified by satellite imagery as containing possible debris from the missing Malaysian airliner MH370, China's media said on Monday, while the United States prepared to move a specialized device that can locate black boxes into the region.
The crew aboard an IL-76 plane sighted the object in the southern Indian Ocean search area on Monday and reported the coordinates to the Australian command center, which is coordinating the multinational search, as well as the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon, which is en route to the area, Xinhua News Agency reported.
No further details were immediately given. Satellite images from Australia and China had earlier identified possible debris in the area that may be linked to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 8 with 239 people aboard.
The US Pacific command said it was sending a black box locator in case a debris field is located. 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 20,000 feet (6,100 meters), Cmdr. Chris Budde, a US Seventh Fleet operations officer, said in a statement.
"This movement is simply a prudent effort to preposition equipment and trained personnel closer to the search area so that 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," Budde said.
There was no sign the move was because of any break in the mystery of the plane that went missing March 8 with 239 people on board, but rather as a preparation.
The Chinese plane was one of two Ilyushins that joined the search Monday from Perth, increasing the number of aircraft to 10 from eight a day earlier.