Poor weather suspends search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane - Tucson News Now

Poor weather suspends search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane

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Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said calculations by U.K. officials and satellite data showed MH370 likely crashed in the middle of the Indian Ocean. (Source: PWTC/CNN) Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said calculations by U.K. officials and satellite data showed MH370 likely crashed in the middle of the Indian Ocean. (Source: PWTC/CNN)
Animation shows search zones in the southern Indian Ocean where crews are focusing their search for Flight 370. (Source: CNN) Animation shows search zones in the southern Indian Ocean where crews are focusing their search for Flight 370. (Source: CNN)
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(RNN) - Tuesday's planned search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been suspended due to poor weather.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said a forecast of rough seas with large swells, heavy rain, strong winds and low cloud ceiling make any air and sea search "hazardous" and poses a risk to crew members. 

They are hopeful the search can continue Wednesday and weather conditions are forecast to improve in the area over the next few days.

So far, no wreckage has been positively identified as part of the plane, though satellite images show possible debris in a remote area off the coast of Australia.

"We're not searching for a needle in a haystack. We're still trying to find where the haystack is," said Air Marshall Nick Binskin, vice chief of the Defence Force of Australia.

Malaysia Airlines said Tuesday it is paying family members $5,000 for each passenger on the missing flight.

The announcement comes after Monday's statement by Malaysia's prime minister, who said he was saddened to inform the families of the passengers on MH370 the flight "ended" in the southern Indian Ocean, deflating the hopes of families awaiting a different outcome.

Najib Razak said at 10 p.m. MYT the evidence from British officials and satellite data showed the likely fate of the jet.

"We share this information out of a commitment of openness and respect to the families, two principles that guide this investigation," Razak said.

He said the plane's final position was a remote location far from any landing sites, about 1,200 miles southwest of Perth.

Malaysia Airline officials sent information to families via text message before the prime minister spoke. They were told "all lives were lost," according to CNN.

"Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean," the text read.

"We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain," the airline's statement said. "We will continue to provide assistance and support to you, as we have done since MH370 first disappeared in the early hours of 8 March, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing."

Malaysia Airlines assured the search operation would continue "as we seek answers to the questions which remain."

"Alongside the search for MH370, there is an intensive investigation, which we hope will also provide answers," it stated.

Search planes from China and Australia reported multiple objects Monday in the southern portion of the Indian Ocean that could be wreckage from the plane missing for nearly two weeks.

Malaysia Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the Australian supply ship HMAS Success was en route to a site about 1,500 miles southwest of Australia, according to the Associated Press. The aircraft spotted two objects in that area.

Xinhua News Agency reported the Chinese plane saw two large objects; the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon was expected to arrive Tuesday morning local time. The U.S. Pacific command stated it was sending a Towed Pinger Locator to the region, which can "ping" an airplane's black box to depths of 20,000 feet, the AP reported.

The plane disappeared en route to Beijing, China after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia around 12:41 a.m. local time on March 8.

The flight was carrying 239 people, including three Americans, and gave no signals of distress before losing communication. 

The search for the missing aircraft has spanned more than 100,000 square miles and included help from more than two dozen countries.

After searching for days in the South China Sea, the search expanded to the Indian Ocean. Officials said they believe the plane may have diverted from its scheduled northern course and cut a westward path over Malaysia toward the Indian Ocean.

On March 19, nearly two weeks after the disappearance of the airplane, Australian aircraft deployed to a remote spot off the coast of Perth, Australia, to investigate possible debris spotted by satellite. 

John Young with the Australia Maritime Safety Authority called it the "best lead we have right now" but urged caution, later saying "We have been in this business of doing search and rescue and using satellite images before, and they do not always turn out to be related to the search even if [the imagery looks] good."

Earlier images that emerged from images shot by a Chinese satellite turned out to be unrelated to the missing plane. 

As the mystery surrounding the missing plane grew deeper, an untold number of theories from the probable to the implausible emerged - including a hijacking, an onboard fire or mechanical problem, and theories that the aircraft flew so closely in the shadow of another that they showed up as one plane on radar. 

Malaysian officials said the aircraft was intentionally steered off course by one or more people with flying experience who intentionally switched off communication devices.

The homes of both pilots were searched with police taking particular interest in a flight simulator in the home of Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah. The simulator was transported to an FBI lab in Virginia for analysis, according to multiple media outlets.

The Boeing 777 is considered one of the safest, most well-built aircrafts in commercial flight and first entered service in 1995.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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