Bad weather halts air and sea search for MH370


Graphic Credit – AFP

The air and sea search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that crashed in the Indian Ocean was suspended Tuesday due to gale force winds, rain and big waves, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

“AMSA has undertaken a risk assessment and determined that the current weather conditions would make any air and sea search activities hazardous and pose a risk to crew,” it said.

“Therefore, AMSA has suspended all sea and air search operations for today due to these weather conditions.”

Strong gale force winds of up to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour) were whipping the area along with heavy rain and low cloud with a ceiling between 200 feet (60 metres) and 500 feet, a statement said.

The decision follows an announcement from Malaysian authorities late Monday confirming the missing airliner crashed, extinguishing the hopes of relatives of the 239 people on board but shedding no light on why it veered so far off course.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said a new analysis of satellite data on the flight’s path placed its last position in remote waters off Australia’s west coast, far from any possible landing sites.

Hopes had been high that wreckage would be found Tuesday after two new objects — a green circular item and an orange rectangular one — were spotted on Monday by an Australian military plane.

This followed larger “white and square” objects seen by a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 reconnaissance plane, which came after satellite images and data captured by Australia, China and France in recent days showed indistinct items in the southern Indian Ocean.

Ten aircraft from Australia, US, New Zealand, China and Japan have been scouring the vast and wild ocean looking for the Boeing 777, along with Australian ship HMAS Success, which has a crane capable of retrieving any wreckage.

AMSA said the Success had been forced to leave the search area early Tuesday until seas abate with swells of up to four metres.

“Last night, HMAS Success attempted to locate objects sighted by a RAAF P3 Orion aircraft,” it said.

“Drift modelling was undertaken to assist search efforts. HMAS Success was unable to relocate the objects.” -AFP