BEIJING -- A Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft searching the South Indian Ocean reported Saturday seeing "three suspicious objects" that could be debris from the long-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The official Xinhua news service, which has a reporter on the plane, described the objects as red, white and orange and wrote that a marker had been dropped at the location so that the objects could be retrieved by a ship for closer examination.
The announcement came as China stepped into a more proactive role in the frustrating 3-week-old search for the plane. Beijing has been publicly critical of Malaysia's efforts to find the Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Out of 227 passengers, 153 were Chinese.
Also Saturday, two Chinese ships reached a new search location about 1,250 miles southwest of Perth, Australia.
The Chinese navy vessel Jinggangshan arrived on the scene Saturday and was carrying two helicopters that will go out to look for oil slicks and floating objects such as life jackets, Xinhua said. Late Friday night, the Chinese maritime patrol ship Haixun 01 reached the new search area.
Four other Chinese ships are also engaged in the search, the state news agency reported Saturday.