Rain and high seas in the southern Indian have forced a temporary cessation of search operations for a lost Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER.
“Due to rough seas, HMAS Success departed the search area early this morning and is now in transit south of the search area until seas abate,” says the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. “A sea state ranging between 7 to 8 is forecast today with waves up to two metres and an associated swell of up to four metres.”
In addition to rough seas, winds of 80km/h are forecast, along with heavy rain and a cloud ceiling between 200-500 feet.
AMSA’s announcement follows a major devleopment on the night of 24 March, when Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said further analysis of data provided by Inmarsat confirmed flight MH370 had flown to the “southern corridor,”with the flight ending somewhere in the Indian Ocean.
Previously, the data had suggested the aircraft may also have flown along a northern corridor stretching to the Caspain Sea.
In a doorstop interview, Australian minister for infrastructure and regional development Warren Truss said the search has entered a new phase, in that it is primarily an accident investigation with no hope of finding survivors.
“Malaysia needs to take control under the Chicago Convention of those investigations,” says Truss. “Australia stands ready to assist. The search will continue, although unfortunately the weather today is so poor that no aircraft are likely to be able to be engaged. We are concerned about the weather also over the next couple of days, so it may be some time before we can get aircraft back into the search.”
The challenging weather is particularly frustrating for the search effort, as on 24 March a Lockheed Martin AP-3C operated by the RAAF had spotted debris potentially related to the lost aircraft. HMAS Success attempted to locate the debris, but apparently failed to do so prior to retreating from the area.
Meanwhile, at 12:30 Kuala Lumpur time today, senior executives of Malaysia Airlines plan to give a press conference related to MH370.
During the early morning of Saturday 8 March, the aircraft, bearing registrion 9M-MRO, disappeared under mysterious circmustances while operating flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. There were 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard the lost aircraft.