Monday, Nov 24, 2014

Weather stalls search for Malaysian Jetliner MH370; satellite spots new objects

In this file photo, a Malaysia Airlines plane, foreground, prepares to go out onto the runway in Perth. (AP) In this file photo, a Malaysia Airlines plane, foreground, prepares to go out onto the runway in Perth. (AP)
Associated Press | Perth | Posted: March 27, 2014 4:06 pm

Planes and ships searching for debris suspected of being from the downed Malaysian jetliner failed to find any Thursday before bad weather cut their hunt short, as Thailand said one of its satellites had spotted hundreds of objects in the area.

The Thai satellite spotted about 300 objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean near an area where planes and ships have been hunting unsuccessfully for a week for any sign of debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard.

The images from the Thai satellite showed “300 objects of various sizes” in the ocean, about 2,700 kilometers (1,675 miles) southwest of Perth, said Anond Snidvongs, director of Thailand’s space technology development agency.

He said the images, taken Monday by the Thaichote satellite, took two days to process and were relayed to Malaysian authorities on Wednesday.

The objects were about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the area where a French satellite on Sunday spotted 122 objects, Anond said. The objects ranged in size from 2 meters (six feet) to 16 meters (53 feet) long.

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 Thursday 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 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, before the air search was suspended, AMSA spokesman Sam Cardwell said.

They were there “maybe two hours” and they did not find anything, Cardwell said.

“They got a bit of time in, but it was not useful because there was no visibility,” he said.

In a message on its Twitter account, AMSA said the bad weather was expected to last 24 hours.

Planes have been flying out of Perth for a week, looking without any success for objects spotted in vague satellite images, including the French one.

Finding them would give physical confirmation that Flight 370, which was scheduled to fly from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, crashed. That would allow searchers to narrow the hunt for the wreckage of the Boeing 777 and its black boxes, which could solve the mystery of why the jet was so far off-course.

Malaysian officials said earlier this week that satellite data confirmed the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines ran a full-page condolence advertisement 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 advertisement in the New Straits Times.

The 122 objects captured by continued…

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