Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane: Search for lost jet again ends without headway

Canberra/Perth/Kuala Lumpur: The search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 that was declared “lost” concluded again in the southern Indian Ocean without any headway, Australian authorities said.

Representational pic

“Final aircraft has left the #MH370 search area. Nothing further sighted after initial sighting of three objects,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority tweeted.

In Perth in Western Australia, out of where the search operation is being conducted, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Flight Officer Peter Moore told the media at Pearce Airbase that the day was another one of frustration with no one confirming any of the day's leads, including claims from Malaysian authorities of over 100 potential objects being spotted.

Moore said the notoriously fickle conditions of the deep Southern Indian Ocean, known in Australia as the "Roaring Forties", some 2,500 km off the West Australian coastline, had improved markedly and provided a clear day of high-visibility for his P3 Orion sortie.

"I'm happy to report search area conditions were a lot better than previous days," he told waiting media.

Moore reported several possible visual contacts were investigated but turned out to be "marine mammals" or dolphins and whales, Xinhua reported.

All military craft in the search area - narrowed down to a vast and forbidding stretch of ocean twice the size of Belgium - were unable to confirm an earlier tweet from the AMSA about three more objects being sighted by a civil aircraft, possibly rope, and that a New Zealand military plane spotted a "blue object".

These were not seen in a second attempt at locating them, as well as by any of the military assets now in the region.

"Unfortunately we didn't find anything further to report," Moore said.

Confusion reigns over almost all aspects of the intensifying search, with Moore contradicting reports of deteriorating conditions.

"The weather should be good, hopefully, over the next two to three days... better than the last four to five days."

Earlier on Wednesday, Malaysia announced that 122 objects have been identified in new satellite imagery that might be connected to the ongoing search for the missing jet.

Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a press briefing that the latest satellite images were taken Sunday and provided Tuesday by France-based Airbus Defence and Space.

Based on the analysis done by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA), 122 potential objects were identified in an area of some 400 sq km, Xinhua reported citing the minister.

Some objects are one metre in length, while others are as long as 23 metres, the minister said, adding that some items appear to be bright, possibly indicating solid materials.

These newly identified objects were located approximately 2,557 km southwest from Perth, he said.

Six countries - Australia, New Zealand, the US, Japan, China and South Korea - participated in Wednesday's search operation.

Meanwhile, Australia announced that families of the people aboard flight MH370 would be given free visas if they wished to come to Australia during the search and recovery operation, the immigration authority said Wednesday.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) was working with Malaysia Airlines and counterparts in China to facilitate visa arrangements for family and officials, said a spokesperson for the minister for immigration and border protection.

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

The plane 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 Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

The search area where the ill-fated passenger jet was assumed to have gone down is 2,500 km southwest of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state.

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