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Two ships combing the ocean off the west coast of Australia recovered a number of objects Saturday, but none was confirmed to be related to the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner, the group leading the search said in a statement.

Aircraft in the area spotted multiple items in the water, including three objects pinpointed by a Chinese plane in the search area Saturday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.

A total of eight aircraft were involved in searching about 97,000 square miles Saturday.

Xinhua News Agency said the Chinese military plane Ilyushin IL-76 sighted three objects that were white, red and orange in color. The missing Boeing 777's exterior was red, white, blue and gray.

As of late Saturday local time, there was no confirmation of the Chinese sighting after a helicopter spent two hours searching for the objects, Xinhua reported.

A Royal Australia Air Force P3 Orion reported seeing objects in the water in a different part of the search area, the AMSA said.

"The objects sighted by aircraft cannot be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they are relocated and recovered by ships," the AMSA said. "It is not known how much flotsam, such as from fishing activities, is ordinarily there."

Malaysia Airlines' Beijing-bound Flight 370, with 239 people aboard, lost communication with civilian air controllers soon after it took off early March 8 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. No emergency signals or distress messages were received before the plane vanished from radar.

A multinational search and recovery effort for the plane has carried on for three weeks.

On Saturday, weather in the search area was "reasonable," the AMSA said. However, visibility was reduced with rain showers.

After Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said this week that the plane went down in a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean, far from any possible landing sites, Malaysia Airlines Chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Md Yusof put out a statement saying there was no hope for survivors.

"Based on this evidence, the prime minister's message was that we must accept the painful reality that the aircraft is now lost and that none of the passengers or crew on board survived," he said.

However, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein pledged Saturday to continue the search for "possible survivors."

"Even hoping against hope, no matter how remote, of course we are praying and we are continuing our search for possible survivors," said Hussein, who was meeting with relatives of those aboard the missing flight.

Multiple ships were involved in the Saturday search efforts and an additional five were scheduled to arrive Sunday.

The U.S. Navy has sent equipment that can detect pings from the black boxes. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Sydney that the equipment would be put on an Australian naval ship soon.

"It will be taken to the most prospective search area and if there is good reason to deploy it, it will be deployed," he said, without giving a time frame. Other officials have said it could take days for the ship — the Ocean Shield — to reach the search area.

Saturday's search was the second in the newly targeted area, after Australian officials shifted their search for the missing Malaysian jetliner Friday, citing "a new credible lead'' about the path of the aircraft and where debris may be located. The new search area is about 1,150 miles west of Perth, Australia, and about 685 miles to the northeast of the previous search area.

There is still no solid evidence regarding what led to the plane's disappearance. Earlier this week, Hussein said there was an ongoing investigation.

"We can confirm that the police have interviewed more than a hundred people, including families of both the pilot and co-pilot," he said.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca in New York City; the Associated Press

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