Bad weather halts hunt for debris from lost jet

SEARCH planes and ships failed to find any debris from missing Malaysian airliner MH370 before bad weather set in yesterday.
Images from the Thaichote satellite released yesterday. Picture: ReutersImages from the Thaichote satellite released yesterday. Picture: Reuters
Images from the Thaichote satellite released yesterday. Picture: Reuters

Thailand had earlier claimed one of its satellites had spotted hundreds of objects floating in the sea in the search area.

As yet, however, no physical evidence of what happened to the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet, which disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, has been recovered.

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Thai satellite images showed “300 objects of various sizes” in the southern Indian Ocean, about 1,675 miles south-west of Perth, Australia, said Anond Snidvongs, director of Thailand’s space technology development agency. He said the images were taken on Monday by the Thaichote satellite.

The objects were about 125 miles from the area where a French satellite on Sunday spotted 122 objects which ranged in size from 6ft to 53ft-long, Dr Snidvongs said.

The announcement came after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it had to pull back all 11 planes scheduled to take part in the search because of heavy rain, winds and low clouds. Five ships continued the hunt. All but three of the planes – a US Navy P-8 Poseidon, a Japanese P-3 Orion and a Japanese Gulfstream jet – reached the search zone, about 1,550 miles south-west of Perth, before the air search was suspended, AMSA said.

Spokesman Sam Cardwell said they were there “maybe two hours” and did not find anything. “They got a bit of time in, but it was not useful because there was no visibility,” he said.

On Twitter, AMSA said the bad weather was expected to last 24 hours.

Planes have been flying out of Perth for a week, looking for objects spotted in satellite images from various countries, including France and China.

Malaysian officials said earlier this week that satellite data confirmed the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. Malaysia Airlines even ran a full-page announcement with a black background in a major newspaper. “Our sincerest condolences go out to the loved ones of the 239 passengers, friends and colleagues. Words alone cannot express our enormous sorrow and pain,” read the New Straits Times advert.

The 122 objects captured by the French satellite ranged in size from 3ft-75ft long, but the search for them and the objects from the Thai satellite will have to wait until the weather in the search area improves.

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Experts cautioned that the area’s frequent high seas and bad weather and its distance from land were complicating an already difficult search. “This is a really rough piece of ocean, which is going to be a terrific issue,” said Kerry Sieh, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore. “I worry that people carrying out the rescue mission are going to get into trouble.”

Malaysia has been criticised over its handling of the plane’s disappearance particularly by Chinese passengers outraged it has declared their loved ones dead without recovering a single piece of wreckage.