A tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean could slow search operations for a missing Malaysian plane, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.

Tropical Cyclone Gillian was causing strong winds and rough seas in the southern Indian Ocean where ships and vessels are searching for objects spotted by an Australian satellite and possibly related to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, he said.

Some of the ships heading to the search area might have to go through the cyclone to reach the zone.

Gillian, packing maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 130 kph, hit Christmas Island Saturday.

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