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Rough weather causes delay in search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Air Transportation IndustryWeatherMalaysia Airlines Flight 370MalaysiaKuala Lumpur (Malaysia)Najib RazakBoeing

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Attempts to recover physical evidence of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean will have to wait another day: Australian officials postponed the search Tuesday because of rough weather.

With forecasts calling for heavy rain, huge swells and gales of up to 50 mph, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it was suspending all search operations for the day.

"The current weather conditions would make any air and sea search activities hazardous and pose a risk to crew," the authority said in a statement.

It also said the Australian vessel Success, which was in the area where suspected airplane debris was seen, was pulling back to a safer place until conditions improved.

On Monday, Malaysian officials said it was possible that the Success would be able to retrieve two objects spotted by an Australian aircraft by Tuesday morning, but efforts Monday night to relocate the pieces, one circular and one rectangular, were unsuccessful.

The hunt for wreckage from the Boeing 777, missing since March 8, is expected to resume Wednesday, said Australia's maritime agency, which has been leading the multinational effort in the area. It said the weather was expected to improve in the evening and over the next few days.

The search area encompasses a vast expanse of some of the most isolated and wild seas about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia.

It is the last known location of Flight 370 as identified by the British satellite company Inmarsat, and on Monday night Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said new data from the company indicated that the plane's journey had ended there.

"This is a remote location far from any possible landing sites," he said in a late-night announcement. "It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you, that according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."

In recent days, a growing number of satellite images and search aircraft have spotted objects floating in that area, but so far authorities have not reported finding any debris from the airliner, which left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.

 

don.lee@latimes.com

 

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