Missing MH370: Rain and poor visibility hamper efforts to locate debris

PETALING JAYA - The two objects which may be linked to the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 aircraft have been spotted in the southern and remote part of the Indian Ocean.

The objects were spotted on Sunday.

Limited visibility is hampering search effort.

A Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion aircraft which arrived in the area at about 1.50pm (Canberra time) yesterday reported that it was unable to locate the objects by 6pm.

The search has been suspended and will resume today.

Three more aircraft, including a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Orion and United States Navy P8 Poseidon, have been tasked by Australia's Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) to search the area later while a merchant ship Norway's Hoegh St Petersburg is already there.

The Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Success is also en route to the area but is some days away.

She is said to be well equipped to recover any objects located and proven to be from MH370.

It takes four hours for an aircraft to fly from Perth to the location.

A tweet from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said clouds and rain had compromised the search effort.

The Poseidon aircraft also failed to find any debris linked to the missing aircraft although they searched a larger area around where the objects were sighted.

The four aircraft were deployed to the area 2,500km south-west of Perth after Australian satellite picked up images of objects - the largest measuring 24m and the smallest measuring 5m.

Amsa emergency response division general manager John Young said an RAAF C-130 Hercules aircraft had been tasked by RCC Australia to drop datum marker buoys.

"These marker buoys will assist in providing information about water movement to assist in drift modelling.

"They will provide an ongoing reference point if the task of relocating the objects becomes protracted."

Amsa has also begun to narrow down its search for the missing plane, with assistance from the Australian Defence Force, the RNZAF and the United States Navy.

In a statement issued by Amsa on its website, Young was quoted as saying that RCC Australia received expert assessment of commercial satellite imagery early yesterday.

"The images were captured by satellite.

"They may not be related to the aircraft," he said, cautioning that the objects could be seaborne debris along a shipping route where containers could fall off cargo vessels.

"The larger object is longer than a container."

Young, who earlier told a news conference in Canberra that satellite images do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, said Amsa would withhold its views until the objects were sighted close-up.

"This is a lead, it's probably the best lead we have right now," said Young.

He said that the assessment of these images was provided by the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation as a possible indication of debris south of the search area that has been the focus of the search operation.

"The imagery is in the vicinity of the search area defined and searched in the past two days," he added.