Australia pauses MH370 hunt due to stormy weather

The Malay Mail Online
March 25, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Search for debris from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was suspended for today owing to difficult weather conditions in the area scoured, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said today.

The Australian agency that is co-ordinating search for the Boeing 777-200ER with 239 on board said it was withdrawing ships and aircraft with the arrival of waves of up to 4m and gale force winds in the area.

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

The delay comes just as Malaysia announced yesterday new data from British commercial satellite firm Inmarsat confirmed that the missing plane was in the southern “corridor” where Australia and Indonesia are searching.

Search could resume as early as tomorrow, as the Australian Bureau of Meteorology forecast that the current adverse weather could dissipate by evening.

“AMSA intends to recommence search activities for any signs of the aircraft once weather conditions improve in the search area,” it added.

Communications between MH370 and Inmarsat’s satellite gave Malaysian authorities the information to announce on March 15 that the plane could be in one of two corridors: a northern arc from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in central Asia, or a southern one from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

This was reduced yesterday to the southern corridor after Inmarsat and the Air Accidents Investigation Board (AAIB) of the UK analysed the data based on the Doppler effect to arrive at the plane’s most probable location.

The Doppler effect is why the sound of a police car siren changes as it approaches and then overtakes an observer.

The announcement also gave added credibility to reported sightings of debris registered by Australian, French and Chinese satellites overlooking the area.

Prior to yesterday’s announcement, search assets were necessarily deployed to both corridors although Malaysia gave “some priority” to the south due to the more challenging search conditions there.

MH370 and the 239 people on board disappeared less than an hour after the Beijing-bound flight left Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am on March 8. The plane and its passengers remain missing despite over two weeks of intensive searching by a multinational effort.

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