New satellite spots objects as jet search cut short by weather
By Rob Griffith and Scott McDonald, AP
March 28, 2014, 12:08 am TWN
PERTH, Australia--Hints about the lost Malaysian jetliner piled up Thursday, but there was precious little chance to track them down. Bad weather cut short the air and sea hunt for the aircraft as satellite data revealed hundreds more objects that might be wreckage.
Not one piece of debris has been recovered from the plane that went down in the southern Indian Ocean on March 8. For relatives of the 239 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, it was yet another agonizing day of waiting.
"Until something is picked up and analyzed to make sure it's from MH370 we can't believe it, but without anything found it's just clues," Steve Wang, whose 57-year-old mother was aboard the flight, said in Beijing. "Without that, it's useless."
A Thai satellite spotted about 300 objects, ranging from 2 meters to 16 meters long, about 2,700 kilometers southwest of Perth, said Anond Snidvongs, director of Thailand's space technology development agency. He said the images, taken Monday by the Thaichote satellite, took two days to process and were relayed to Malaysian authorities on Wednesday.
The objects were about 200 kilometers southwest of the area where a French satellite on Sunday spotted 122 objects. It's unknown whether the two satellites detected the same objects; currents in the ocean can run a meter per second and wind also could move material.
The announcement came after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it had to pull back all 11 planes scheduled to take part in the search Thursday because of heavy rain, winds and low clouds. Five ships continued the hunt.
All but three of the planes — a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon and a Japanese P-3 Orion and Gulfstream jet — reached the search zone, about 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth, before the air search was suspended, AMSA spokesman Sam Cardwell said.
On Thursday, Malaysian officials met with China's ambassador to Malaysia, Huang Huikang, "to request the government of China to engage and clarify the actual situation to the affected families in particular and the Chinese public in general," the statement said.
Officials still don't know why Flight 370 disappeared. Investigators have ruled out nothing — including mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.
On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey told members of Congress that his investigators should finish in a day or two their analysis of electronics owned by the pilot and co-pilot, work that includes trying to recover files deleted from a home flight simulator used by Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
Some speculation has focused on Zaharie and his state of mind, but his son, in an interview published Thursday in the New Straits Times, rejected the idea that his father might be to blame.