Hints about the lost Malaysian jetliner piled up Thursday, but there was precious little chance to track them down. Bad weather cut short the hunt for possible debris fields from the aircraft as satellite data revealed hundreds more objects that might be wreckage.
The Associated Press
PERTH, Australia — Hints about the lost Malaysian jetliner piled up Thursday, but there was precious little chance to track them down. Bad weather cut short the hunt for possible debris fields from the aircraft as satellite data revealed hundreds more objects that might be wreckage.
Not one piece of debris has been recovered from the plane that went down in the southern Indian Ocean on March 8. For relatives of the 239 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, it was yet another agonizing day of waiting.
"Until something is picked up and analyzed to make sure it's from MH370 we can't believe it, but without anything found it's just clues," Steve Wang, whose 57-year-old mother was aboard the flight, said in Beijing. "Without that, it's useless."
Japan said it provided Malaysia with information from satellite images taken Wednesday showing about 10 objects that might be debris from the plane, with the largest measuring about 4 meters by 8 meters (13 feet by 26 feet). The objects were located about 2,500 kilometers (1,560 miles) southwest of Perth, Japan's Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office said.
A Thai satellite also spotted about 300 objects, ranging from 2 meters (6 feet) to 16 meters (53 feet) long, about 2,700 kilometers (1,675 miles) southwest of Perth, said Anond Snidvongs, director of Thailand's space technology development agency. He said the images, taken Monday by the Thaichote satellite, took two days to process and were relayed to Malaysian authorities on Wednesday.
The objects were about 200 kilometers (125 miles) southwest of the area where a French satellite on Sunday spotted 122 objects. It's unknown whether the satellites detected the same objects; currents in the ocean can run a meter per second (about 2.2 mph) and wind also could move material.
The announcements came after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it had to pull back all 11 planes scheduled to take part in the search Thursday because of heavy rain, winds and low clouds. Five ships continued the hunt.
All but three of the planes — a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon, a Japanese P-3 Orion and a Japanese Gulfstream jet — reached the search zone, about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, before the air search was suspended, AMSA spokesman Sam Cardwell said.
They were there "maybe two hours" and found nothing, Cardwell said. "They got a bit of time in, but it was not useful because there was no visibility."
In a message on its Twitter account, AMSA said the bad weather was expected to last 24 hours.
Planes have been flying out of Perth for a week, seeing a few small objects that might or might not be from the plane and nothing of the possible debris fields viewed by the Thai and French satellites. Even the few objects the planes saw seemed to vanish when aircraft went back for another look.
If and when any bit of wreckage from Flight 370 is recovered and identified, searchers will be able to narrow their hunt for the rest of the Boeing 777 and its black boxes, which could solve the mystery of why the jet flew so far off-course. The plane was supposed to fly from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing but turned away from its route soon after takeoff and flew for several hours before crashing.
Malaysian officials said earlier this week that satellite data confirmed the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines ran a full-page condolence advertisement with a black background in a major Malaysian newspaper.
"Our sincerest condolences go out to the loved ones of the 239 passengers, friends and colleagues. Words alone cannot express our enormous sorrow and pain," read the advertisement in the New Straits Times.