Thunderstorms and gale-force winds grounded the international air search for wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 yesterday, frustrating the luckless effort yet again just as new satellite images of floating objects sparked hopes of a breakthrough.
It marked the second suspension within three days for the planes from several nations that, along with ships, have fought a losing battle against fierce winds and mountainous seas in the remote southern Indian Ocean as they hunt for hard evidence that the plane crashed.
“Today’s search operations have been suspended due to bad weather,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the search, said on its Twitter account.
The agency initially said ships were leaving the search area along with the planes, but later announced the ships would stay and try to continue the search.
“Bad weather expected for next 24 hours,” it tweeted.
Malaysia had said late on Wednesday that images taken in recent days by a French satellite showed “122 potential objects” adrift in the vast area, but nothing has been recovered yet that would confirm the plane’s fate.
Meanwhile, Thai satellite images have shown 300 floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean, an official said yesterday.
The objects, ranging from 2m to 15m in size, were scattered over an area about 2,700km southwest of Perth, according to Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.
“But we cannot — dare not — confirm they are debris from the plane,” agency executive director Anond Snidvongs said.
He said the information had been given to Malaysia.
He also said that the objects were spotted about 200km from the area where French satellite images earlier showed potential objects.
The Boeing 777 is presumed to have crashed on March 8 in the Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard after diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing path and apparently flying for hours in the opposite direction.
In other developments, Chinese insurance companies have started paying compensation to the families of passengers, Xinhua news agency said yesterday.
The families of seven passengers received 4.17 million yuan (US$671,600) in compensation on Tuesday, China Life was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
Additional reporting by Reuters