Bad weather forecast as new images spur MH370 search

Bad weather forecast as new images spur MH370 search
Thu Mar 27, 2014 08:06:35

Thunderstorms and gale-force winds threatened to impede a frantic international search Thursday for wreckage from Flight MH370 after satellite images of more than 100 floating objects sparked fresh hopes of a breakthrough.

Malaysia said the imagery taken in recent days by a French satellite showed "122 potential objects" in the remote southern Indian Ocean, although nothing has yet been pulled from the treacherous seas despite a multinational recovery operation.

Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has cautioned that it was impossible to determine whether the objects were related to the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 which crashed on March 8 with 239 people aboard after mysteriously disappearing.

But the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the search some 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, said they were in an area authorities have pinpointed as a potential crash zone.

"Positions in the satellite information released by Malaysia Remote Sensing Agency were within Wednesday's search area," it said as a fleet of planes prepared to head for the search zone once again before the weather worsens.

Six military planes from Australia, Japan and the United States will fly sorties throughout the day, along with five civil aircraft, AMSA said, in an increasingly frantic hunt for clues to exactly what happened.

The plane deviated inexplicably off its intended course between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, flying thousands of kilometers in the wrong direction, before plunging into the sea. Malaysia believes the plane was deliberately diverted by someone on board.

Five ships are also in the search zone, including Australia's HMAS Success and Chinese vessels Xue Long, Kuulunshan, Haikon and Qiandaohu.

But they are operating in a wild expanse of ocean described by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as "close to nowhere as it's possible to be" where gale-force winds and towering waves are routinely whipped up.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology warned the weather was expected to deteriorate later Thursday.

The new images, provided by European aerospace giant Airbus and depicting some objects as long as 23 meters (75 feet), came as US lawyers fired the first salvo in an expected barrage of lawsuits on behalf of grieving families.


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