PERTH - The search for wreckage from Flight MH370 was called off on Thursday for the second time this week as the weather worsened in the Indian Ocean with planes and ships ordered out of the area.
"Today's search operations have been suspended due to bad weather. All planes are returning to Perth & ships are leaving search area," the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) tweeted.
Six military planes from Australia, China, Japan and the United States were flying sorties along with five civil aircraft, scouring two areas in the remote southern Indian Ocean covering a cumulative 78,000 square kilometres.
Five ships were also in the search zone, including Australia's HMAS Success and Chinese vessels Xue Long, Kunlunshan, Haikou and Qiandaohu.
The international hunt for debris from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 which crashed on March 8 with 239 people aboard had taken on renewed urgency after new satellite images released Wednesday.
They showed more than 100 floating objects in the area, sparking fresh hopes of a breakthrough, but there was no word from AMSA on whether anything had been seen by the planes or ships before the search was suspended.
Earlier Thursday, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology warned of impending thunderstorms and high winds in the search area 2,500 kilometres south-west of Perth.
Towering waves and gale force winds are routinely whipped up in the desolate area where the search is being conducted, with operations also suspended on Tuesday.