Jet search fails to find debris

Satellite imagery of objects that may be possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370    REUTERS/Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Satellite imagery of objects that may be possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 REUTERS/Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Rescue authorities studied satellite data today for more clues in the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, after an air and sea search in the remote Indian Ocean off Australia failed to find any trace of a suspected debris field.

Improving weather conditions should help the search today, forecasters said, as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed everything "humanly possible" was being done to find the aircraft. 

Australia rushed four international aircraft to an area some 2,500 km southwest of Perth hen analysis of satellite images identified two large objects that may have come from the Boeing 777, which went missing from radar screens 13 days ago with 239 people aboard.

Investigators suspect the Malaysia Airlines flight, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing shortly after midnight on March 8, was deliberately diverted thousands of km and then crashed into some of the deepest, most isolated waters on the planet in a possible suicide.

Rescue authorities cautioned that the objects spotted on the satellite images, dated March 16, might not be related to the transcontinental search for the plane but said the find represented the best lead yet.

Four aircraft would resume the search of the 23,000 square km zone today, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said. A Norwegian merchant ship that had been diverted to the area on Thursday was still searching there. Another vessel would arrive later today.

Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said Australia continued to examine satellite footage to pinpoint the location of the suspected debris, which included a piece estimated from the satellite imagery to be 24 metres long.

"Clearly, there's a lot of resources being put into that particular area. It's broadly consistent with the flight plans that were talked about ever since the satellites and their work has been added to the information bank," Truss told ABC radio.

"That work will continue, trying to get more pictures, stronger resolution so that we can be more confident about where the items are, how far they have moved and therefore what efforts should be put into the search effort."

Strong winds, cloud and rain had made searching difficult, said Kevin Short, air vice marshal at New Zealand's Defence Forces which sent a P-3K2 Orion to search the area yesterday.

"The crew never found any object of significance," he told Radio New Zealand. "Visibility wasn't very good, which makes it harder to search the surface of the water," he said.

A nearby desolate group of French-administered sub-Antarctic islands including St. Paul and Amsterdam and Kerguelen had been asked to look for debris, but none had been spotted, said Sebastien Mourot, chief of staff for the French prefect of La Reunion.

NZ Air Force pledges more help 

The NZ Air Force is ready to send extra aircraft and staff to aid in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, it says.

Four search aircraft, including one New Zealand P3 Orion, were dispatched from Australia to a search area about 2500 kilometres southwest of Perth.

Surveillance aircraft late yesterday scoured a remote and stormy section of the Indian Ocean for a pair of floating objects that Australia and Malaysia guardedly called a "credible" lead in the 12-day-old hunt for a missing passenger jet.

The planes covered an area of 23,000 sq/km without any sighting before the search was suspended for the day, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

It earlier reported cloudy, rainy conditions and limited visibility.

 

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