According to the National Maritime Search and Rescue Center, three warships- the Kunlunshan, the Haikou and the Qiandaohu-were enroute to the area where a satellite image showed two large objects floating about 2,300 kilometres west of Australia.

Early this week, the ships were searching off the southwest coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.

The Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon is also preparing to proceed towards Perth in Western Australia for joining the probe. The ship was in Perth following a voyage to Antarctica in January, state media reported.

Meanwhile, the Australian-led mission said it was sending five aircraft back to a storm-lashed area some 2,500 km southwest of Perth.

The search began on Thursday after analysis of satellite images identified two large objects floating in the ocean there that may have come from the Boeing 777 which went missing 13 days ago with 239 people aboard.

Investigators have said the sighting in one of the most isolated parts of the globe was a credible lead but nothing beyond that.

The investigators suspect Flight MH370, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing shortly after midnight on March 8, was deliberately diverted thousands of miles from its scheduled path. They say they are focusing on hijacking or sabotage but have not ruled out technical problems.

The search for the plane also continues in other regions, including a wide arc sweeping northward from Laos to Kazakhstan.

A source close to the investigation said it might take "several days" to establish whether the objects spotted by satellite in the Indian Ocean came from the missing airliner.

JPN/Agencies

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