(Adds China report on debris spotted, detail from AMSA on
* Chinese aircraft reports suspicious objects
* Chinese navy vessels on site, Malaysian planes to join
* Malaysian transport minister meets with Chinese families
* Nothing significant in FBI examination of simulator - U.S.
By Jane Wardell and Matt Siegel
SYDNEY/PERTH, March 29 Chinese ships trawled a
new area in the Indian Ocean for a missing Malaysian passenger
jet on Saturday, as the search for Flight MH370 entered its
fourth week amid a series of false dawns over sightings of
Australian authorities coordinating the operation moved the
search 1,100 km (685 miles) north on Friday after new analysis
of radar and satellite data concluded the Malaysia Airlines
plane travelled faster and for a shorter distance
after vanishing from civilian radar screens on March 8.
A Chinese military aircraft spotted three suspicious objects
on Saturday in the new search area some 1,850 km (1,150 miles)
west of Perth, coloured white, red and orange respectively, the
official Xinhua news agency said.
That sighting follows reports of "multiple objects of
various colours" by international flight crews on Friday,
according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
Some looked like they were from fishing boats and nothing could
be confirmed until they were recovered by ships, it added.
"We're hopeful to relocate some of the objects we were
seeing yesterday," Royal New Zealand Air Force Squadron Leader
Flight Lieutenant Leon Fox told Reuters before flying out to the
search zone on an Orion P-3. "Hopefully some of the ships in the
area will be able to start picking it up and give us an
indication of what we were seeing."
The Chinese navy vessel Jinggangshan, which carries two
helicopters, reached the new search area early on Saturday where
it was expected to focus on searching for plane surfaces, oil
slicks and life jackets in a sea area of some 6,900 sq km, state
news agency Xinhua reported.
Another four Chinese vessels and one from Australia were on
the way but would not arrive until late in the day.
Malaysia says the Boeing 777, which vanished less
than an hour into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was
likely diverted deliberately but investigators have turned up no
apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or
the 12 crew.
U.S. officials close to the investigation said the FBI found
nothing illuminating in data it had received from computer
equipment used by MH370's pilots, including a home-made flight
The search has involved more than two dozen countries and 60
aircraft and ships but has been bedevilled by regional rivalries
and an apparent reluctance to share potentially crucial
information due to security concerns.
Two Malaysian military aircraft, which arrived in Perth on
Saturday, are expected to join the search party for the first
time on Sunday.
The Malaysian government has come under strong criticism
from China, home to more than 150 of the passengers, where
relatives of the missing have accused the government of "delays
More than 20 Chinese relatives staged a brief protest on
Saturday outside the Lido hotel in Beijing where families have
been staying for the past three weeks, demanding evidence of the
The peaceful protest came just days after dozens of angry
relatives clashed with police after trying to storm the
Many of Saturday's protesters carried slogans demanding the
"truth" about their lost loved ones.
"They don't have any direct evidence," said Steve Wang, who
had a relative on the flight. "(Their conclusion) is only based
on mathematical (analysis) and they used an uncertain
mathematical model. Then they come to the conclusion that our
relatives are all gone."
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein
said his country was committed to seeing the investigation
through to its final conclusion.
"What they want from us is a commitment to continue the
search, and that I have given, not only on behalf of the
Malaysian government but the so many nations involved," he told
reporters in Kuala Lumpur after speaking with families on
For more than a week, ships and surveillance planes had been
scouring seas 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, where
satellite images had shown possible debris from Flight MH370.
That search zone has now been abandoned.
In the first week of the search, Vietnamese, Chinese and
Malaysia ships and planes concentrated their efforts in the
South China Sea.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said the
latest shift north was based on analysis of radar data between
the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. At that time, the
Boeing 777 was making a radical diversion west from its course.
Malaysian officials said the new search area was the result
of a painstaking analysis of Malaysian military radar data and
satellite readings from British company Inmarsat carried
out by U.S., Chinese, British and Malaysian investigators.
Engine performance analysis by the plane's manufacturer
Boeing helped investigators determine how long the plane could
have flown before it ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean
thousands of miles off course, they said.
Officials close to the investigation told Reuters last week
that the plane may have passed close to Port Blair, the capital
of India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 550 miles (885 km)
further northwest from where Malaysia has said its military
radar last detected it.
At around 319,000 sq km (123,000 sq miles) - roughly the
size of Poland - the new search area is larger, but closer to
Perth, allowing aircraft to spend longer on site. It is also
favourable in terms of the weather as it is out of the deep sea
region known as the Roaring 40s for its huge seas and frequent
Searchers have perhaps a week to find debris, calculate the
likely crash area and find the aircraft's voice and data "black
boxes" before batteries showing their location run out.
(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Perth, Niluksi
Koswanage and Rujun Shen in Kuala Lumpur, Mark Hosenball in
Washington, Lincoln Feast in Sydney, Paul Carsten and Xihao
Jiang in Beijing; Writing by Jane Wardell; Editing by Dean Yates
and Jeremy Laurence)