A Malaysia Airlines plane with 166 people on board has been forced to make an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur in another blow to its safety image after the loss of flight MH370.

Flight MH192, bound for Bangalore, India, turned back to Kuala Lumpur after it was discovered that a tyre had burst on take-off, the airline said.

"As safety is of utmost priority to Malaysia Airlines, the aircraft was required to turn back to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport)," the airline said in a statement.

The airline is still reeling from the loss and presumed crash of flight MH370, which disappeared on 8 March while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Today's flight landed safely at 1.56am (6.56pm Irish time), nearly four hours after it took off, the flag carrier said.

"All 159 passengers and seven crew members on board have disembarked from the aircraft."

The airline said tyre debris discovered on the runway had led to the decision to bring the Boeing 737-800 aircraft back.

"They have landed safely - thank God," tweeted Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who is overseeing Malaysia's response to MH370.

It inexplicably diverted and is now believed to have crashed into the remote Indian Ocean with 239 people on board.

Mr Hishammuddin had tweeted that MH192 went into a holding pattern as other reports quoted officials saying it would only be allowed to land once all of its fuel had been burned off.

MH192's passengers would be accommodated in local hotels and the flight was re-timed to take off at 3.30pm local time tomorrow, the airline said.

Malaysia Airlines had previously enjoyed a good safety record, as did the Boeing 777 aircraft used for MH370.

An Australian-led multi-nation search effort is now scouring a remote area of the Indian Ocean for wreckage from flight MH370 in a bid to confirm its fate and hopefully recover the flight data recorders to determine what happened to it.

No surface debris has been found despite a month of searching, but search crews had earlier picked up signals believed to be from the beacons of the plane's data recorders.

A US Navy submersible sonar scanning device is now being deployed to look for wreckage on the seabed at depths of around 4,500 metres or more.

Nothing has yet been found and authorities have indicated they may reassess within days how to approach the extremely challenging search - expected to be the costliest in aviation history.

Malaysia's government and the airline have come under harsh criticism from Chinese relatives of MH370 passengers. Two thirds of its 227 passengers were from China, who have alleged a bungling response and cover-up.