China is sending several ships to the southern Indian Ocean to join the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 after satellite imagery detected two objects in the remote waters, official state media said Friday.
State broadcaster CCTV said the ships were being diverted from search duties farther north to the region about 1,500 miles southwest of Australia, where Australian, U.S. and New Zealand aircraft were scouring the waves Friday.
China's National Maritime Search and Rescue Center said three naval ships were on their way to the region, where they could be met by the icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon.
The Xuelong is already in port in Perth on the southwestern Australian coast after arriving in January from an Antarctic expedition and is ready to join the search if ordered, the State Oceanic Administration said in a report from the official Chinese news agency Xinhua.
"Once we receive the order, we will spare no efforts," Xinhua quoted Qin Weijia, deputy director of the oceanic agency's polar expedition office, as saying.
The announcements came shortly after Xinhua reported that President Xi Jinping spoke with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott by phone Thursday about the new developments.
Xi, calling the disappearance of the jetliner on March 8 a "calamity," thanked Abbott for Australia's efforts and urged Australia to continue the search "as long as there is still a gleam of hope," according to Xinhua.
About two-thirds of the flight's passengers were Chinese citizens, and Beijing has criticized the Malaysian government's search efforts.
— M. Alex Johnson
First published March 20 2014, 8:51 PM