MH370 Malaysian plane: Indian Ocean searched for plane

An international search of the southern Indian Ocean is continuing for a second day as authorities try to locate a missing Malaysian airliner.

Five military and civilian aircraft are taking part in the search for debris from flight MH370, which disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board.

Satellite images released on Thursday showed objects possibly related to the plane in waters far south-west of the Australian city of Perth.

Bad weather hampered Thursday’s search.

“It’s about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the earth, but if there is anything down there, we will find it,” said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is currently visiting Papua New Guinea.

“We owe it to the families of those people (on board) to do no less.”

Flight MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers and disappeared from radar.

Satellite data has led to a search in two corridors to the north and south of its last known location in the Malacca Straits – the opposite direction from its flight path.

Malaysian officials say they believe the plane was intentionally diverted. Authorities in many countries have scrutinised the backgrounds of both passengers and crew on board but say they have no substantive leads.

Other reports of debris to date have proved not to be linked to the missing plane.

Bad conditions

The debris which is the current focus of the search was identified on satellite images by Australian experts.

Mr Abbott announced early on Thursday that vessels were being sent to investigate, but cautioned that the objects found could be unrelated to the plane.

Four military planes, including three Orions belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force, are taking part in the search, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said in a statement.

A civilian Bombardier Global Express is also involved. Two Orions and the Bombardier Global Express were due in the search area on Friday morning, with another Orion and a US P8 Poseidon aircraft due there later in the day.

The aircraft are searching a 23,000 km area, about 2,500 km (1,550 miles) south-west of Perth, Amsa said.

Each aircraft is able to search for no more than two hours, due to the distance from land.

The first aircraft returned on Friday without finding any debris.

A Norwegian merchant ship is in the area and has been searching since Thursday. Another merchant ship is en route, as is an Australian navy vessel with recovery capacity.

John Young, manager of Amsa’s emergency response division, said: “Although this search area is much smaller than we started with, it nonetheless is a big area when you’re looking out the window and trying to see something by eye.

“So we may have to do this a few times to be confident about the coverage of that search area.”

On Thursday military officials said weather had hampered the search.

The captain of the first Australian air force Orion to return from the search area described conditions as “extremely bad” with rough seas and high winds.

Warren Truss, Australia’s deputy prime minister, emphasised the difficulty of the task.

“Clearly this is a very, very difficult and challenging search. Weather conditions are not particularly good and [the] risk [is] that they may deteriorate,” he said.

China says it is sending three navy vessels to the search area. It also has an icebreaker in Perth that could join the search, its National Maritime Search and Rescue Centre said.

‘False information’

On Thursday, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein described the debris sighting as a “credible lead”.

The largest object appeared to be 24m (78ft) in size, the Australian authorities said.

Correspondents say many families are hoping the objects are not debris from the plane, as they are holding onto hope that their relatives could be alive somewhere.

Wen Wancheng, whose 33-year-old son Wen Yongsheng was on the plane, said: “What wreckage? In a few days they are going to say it’s not true.

“[The Malaysian authorities] need to stop giving us false information. I simply don’t believe them any more.”

Malaysia says search efforts are continuing in both corridors, involving a total of 18 ships, 29 aircraft and six ship-borne helicopters.

“Until we are certain that we have located MH370, search and rescue operations will continue in both corridors,” Mr Hishammuddin said.