MH370 Malaysia plane: No debris found on second search day

Jonathan Head says planes from military base in Australia are leading the search

A second day of searching for sightings of possible debris from a missing Malaysian airliner in the southern Indian Ocean has proved fruitless.

The operation is due to start again on Saturday with extra vessels joining the search, Australian officials say.

Five aircraft took part in Friday's search for flight MH370, which vanished two weeks ago with 239 people on board.

Satellite images have revealed objects possibly related to the plane in waters far south-west of Western Australia.

Bad weather had initially hampered Thursday's operation, but conditions improved on Friday.

Experts have warned that the searchers face extremely treacherous seas and that a recovery operation would be very dangerous.

'Gut-wrenching business'

Operations were halted on Friday at nightfall, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) confirmed. It added that an Australian navy ship, HMAS Success, was on its way to the search area.

In an earlier press conference, Malaysian authorities said the vessel was expected to "reach the vicinity of the objects tomorrow [Saturday]".

Amsa image Australian authorities said one of the objects on the satellite images was 24m in size
Amsa image The objects were seen on satellite images dated 16 March and assessed by experts

Other countries deploying additional assets included China, Japan and the United Kingdom, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.

He added that a French delegation was also assisting "with their considerable experience and expertise".

The team "includes a man who led the investigation into the Air France (Flight) 447 crash", Mr Hussein said.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier described the search as "a gut-wrenching business for so many people, not least those who are charged with keeping their citizens safe".

Tony Abbott: "If there is anything down there, we will find it"

"It's about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the earth, but if there is anything down there, we will find it," said Mr Abbott, who is currently visiting Papua New Guinea.

"We owe it to the families of those people (on board) to do no less."

But he also cautioned that the objects spotted by the satellites could be unrelated to the plane.

Flight MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers and disappeared from radar at 00:41 Saturday, 8 March (16:41 GMT, 7 March).

Satellite data has led to a search in two corridors to the north and south of its last known location in the Malacca Straits - the opposite direction from its flight path.

The St Petersburg, a Norwegian merchant ship, that is helping with search efforts The St Petersburg, a Norwegian merchant ship, was the first vessel to reach the area

Malaysian officials say they believe the plane was intentionally diverted. Authorities in many countries have scrutinised the backgrounds of both passengers and crew on board but say they have no substantive leads.

Other reports of debris to date have proved not to be linked to the missing plane.

Four military planes, including three Orions belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force, were taking part in the search, Amsa said. A civilian Bombardier Global Express is also involved.

The aircraft are searching a 23,000 sq km area, about 2,500 km (1,550 miles) south-west of Perth, Amsa said.

Each aircraft is able to search for no more than two hours, due to the distance from land.

China said it was sending three navy vessels to the search area. It also has an icebreaker in Perth that could join the search, its National Maritime Search and Rescue Centre said.

Two merchant ships have also joined the search.

Map showing search area for MH370
Amsa map of search area for 21 March
'False information'

On Thursday, Malaysian authorities described the debris sighting as a "credible lead".

The largest object appeared to be 24m (78ft) in size, the Australian authorities said.

Correspondents say many families are hoping the objects are not debris from the plane, as they are holding on to hope that their relatives could be alive somewhere.

Wen Wancheng, whose 33-year-old son Wen Yongsheng was on the plane, said: "What wreckage? In a few days they are going to say it's not true.

"[The Malaysian authorities] need to stop giving us false information. I simply don't believe them any more."

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