Search for Malaysian jet resumes amid weather concerns

Canberra, March 29: The search operations for the “lost” Malaysia Airlines jetliner resumed Saturday in the new search area in the southern Indian Ocean 1,850 km west of Perth with Australian authorities saying that weather conditions are suitable initially but expected to deteriorate later in the day.

“Today’s (Saturday’s) weather is expected initially to be suitable for searching but conditions are expected to deteriorate later in the day,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in its latest update.

It said the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration ship Haixun 01 has been on scene for relocating objects from first light. Multiple sightings of objects possibly related to the lost jet were reported Friday by aircraft scouring the area for clues.

A total of eight aircraft are being deployed for Saturday’s search operation, the AMSA said.

“They include three Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard jet, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, and one civil jet acting as a communications relay,” it stated.

“Six ships are expected to reach the search area today, tasked with relocating the objects sighted, but will arrive late in the day or after dark.”

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.

The Boeing 777-200ER was scheduled to land in Beijing the same day. The 226 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

The plane lost contact along with its radar signal when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur Monday sited British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) as confirming that flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.

“Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth,” he added.

According to a Xinhua report from Perth, the Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft deployed for Saturday’s search operation spotted three suspicious objects in the new search area.

The latest spotted floating items are white, red and orange respectively, the report said.

A marker was dropped and the Chinese crew have informed Australian authorities of the new findings.