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BAD WEATHER HITS OPS

Royal Canadian Air Force Captain Mike MacSween walks past the AP-3C Orion
he piloted over the south Indian Ocean, upon his return to
RAAF base

Jet search: Thai satellite images show 300 objects

Bangkok, March 27, 2014

A Thai satellite has detected 300 floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean where an international search is under way for a missing Malaysian jet liner, Thailand's Geo Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gisda) said.

The objects were spotted around 2,700 km (1,680 miles) southwest of Perth by the satellite "Thaichote" on March 24, the Gisda said in a statement.

Meanwhile, severe weather on Thursday halted the air search, frustrating hopes of finding what new satellite images showed could be a large debris field.

An international search team of 11 military and civilian aircraft and five ships had been heading to the area.

"The forecast in the area was calling for severe icing, severe turbulence and near-zero visibility," said Lieutenant Commander Adam Schantz, the officer in charge of the US Navy Poseidon P8 maritime surveillance aircraft detachment.

"Anybody who's out there is coming home and all additional sorties from here are cancelled."

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the effort, confirmed flights had been called off but said ships continued to search, correcting an earlier statement that had said all operations had been suspended.

Flight MH370 is thought to have crashed on March 8 with the loss of all 239 people aboard after flying thousands of miles off course.

LOGISTICAL CHALLENGE

The flight vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, and investigators believe someone onboard may have shut off the plane's communications systems. Theories range from a hijacking to sabotage or a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.

Partial military radar tracking showed the plane turning west off its scheduled course over the South China Sea and then recrossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.

The logistical difficulties of the search have been highlighted by the failure so far to get a lock on possible debris, despite the now numerous satellite images and direct visual sightings from aircraft and ships.

The search area, some 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, has some of the deepest and roughest waters in the world.

RELATIVES DISTRAUGHT

Recovery of wreckage could unlock clues about why and how the plane had diverted so far off course in one of aviation's most puzzling mysteries.

The US has sent an undersea Navy drone and a high-tech black box detector which will be fitted to an Australian ship due in Perth in the coming days.

The so-called black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder - record what happens during flight, but time is running out to pick up their locator beacons, which stop about a month after a crash due to limited battery life.

The prolonged and so far fruitless search and investigation have taken a toll, with dozens of distraught relatives of 150 Chinese passengers clashing with police and accusing Malaysia of "delays and deception".

Chinese insurance companies have started paying compensation to the families of passengers, state news agency Xinhua said on Thursday. - Reuters
 




Tags: plane | missing |

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