As it happened: Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

Key Points

  • The search for possible debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight has been suspended due to bad weather, Australian officials say
  • Thailand says its satellite images show 300 floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean, 2,700km from Perth
  • The Kuala Lumpur-Beijing airliner disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board
  • The plane is presumed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors
  • All times GMT

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  1.  
    03:32:

    Welcome to our live page on the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which comes a day after fresh satellite images identified a field of 122 "potential objects" in the southern Indian Ocean.

     
  2.  
    03:33:

    On Wednesday, Malaysia's acting transport minister said 122 "potential objects" had been seen around 2,557km from Perth on new French satellite images

     
  3.  
    03:42:

    The first search planes have already departed Perth for more searches. These include a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft and two Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orions.

     
  4.  
    03:50:

    Weather conditions in the search area are expected to deteriorate later on Thursday. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has warned of potential "thunderstorms down there as well as winds picking up" that "could get to gale force conditions".

     
  5.  
    03:57: Jonathan Head BBC News, Perth

    The latest satellite image indicating a possible debris field was taken on Sunday, and shows 122 objects, ranging from one to 20m long. But powerful currents, high waves and the huge distance from land still make pinpointing these objects from aircraft very difficult - and until that happens, the five ships standing by cannot attempt to retrieve them for identification.

     
  6.  
    04:10:
    This handout photo shows imagery taken on 23 March 2014 by a French satellite showing more than 100 floating objects (within highlighted boxes) in the remote southern Indian Ocean

    This handout picture received from the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency shows the French satellite imagery showing more than 100 floating objects (in the highlighted boxes) in the southern Indian Ocean.

     
  7.  
    Australian Maritime Safety Authority

    tweets: #MH370 search operations are now underway. Today's search area covers a total of 78,000 sq km. http://bit.ly/1rCqZQ2

     
  8.  
    04:32:

    The new satellite images showing potential debris have given the recovery operation renewed vigour, the BBC's Phil Mercer in Perth reports. Crews are trying to make the best of the conditions as they are before the weather turns against them, our correspondent adds.

     
  9.  
    04:43: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

    tweets: Today's search operations have been suspended due to bad weather. All planes are returning to Perth & ships are leaving search area. #MH370

     
  10.  
    04:48:

    Family members of those on board the plane have been receiving briefings from Malaysian officials in Beijing. These meetings are often intense - at Wednesday's briefing, relatives shouted "you are shameless!" at the delegation. One of the relatives asked: "Does your country always draw conclusions based on speculation?", to applause from other family members.

     
  11.  
    05:04:

    The BBC's Phil Mercer in Perth says that strong winds and high waves are hampering efforts in the search area. No pieces of debris have been physically found so far, he says.

     
  12.  
    NBC Chief Global Correspondent Bill Neely

    tweets: Bad weather could scatter 122 pieces of debris spotted by French Satellite on Sunday. Experts say currents can carry objects 50 miles a day.

     
  13.  
    05:25:

    Lieutenant Commander Adam Schantz, who is in charge of the US Navy Poseidon P8 aircraft detachment, told Reuters news agency "the forecast in the area was calling for severe icing, severe turbulence and near zero visibility".

    "Anybody who's out there is coming home and all additional sorties from here are cancelled," he said.

     
  14.  
    05:32:
    The BBC's Jon Donnison in Perth

    The 12 search planes that went out on Wednesday failed to confirm any debris from the plane. The BBC's Jon Donnison is in Perth, where the search is being co-ordinated, and sent this report.

     
  15.  
    05:41:

    The BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing says that "amid the obvious grief and distress and frustration, there is from the family members still a fairly forensic and exacting line of questioning about some of the details of what Malaysia Airlines and what the Malaysian military knew".

    "They refuse to give up hope until something is found. They do not yet feel ready to go [to Perth] because they do not accept the conclusion that this flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean," he adds.

    He says they will be briefed again by a senior delegation later on Thursday.

     
  16.  
    05:47:

    Malaysia Airlines has published full-page advertisement in some newspapers to mourn the loss of the passengers, seen here on their Google Plus page.

    "Today, we are truly saddened by the loss of Malaysia Airlines MH370 and our hearts break to think of the unimaginable pain suffered by all families. With this news, Malaysia Airlines, grieves together with you for the passing of our friends, family, colleagues and guest who have journeyed with us.

     
  17.  
    05:53:

    Formula One teams and officials are planning to honour passengers of the missing plane during this weekend's Malaysia Grand Prix, says the AP news agency.

    Driver Lewis Hamilton said the tragedy was "just heart-breaking" and "my heart and thoughts go out to the families and friends", AP adds.

     
  18.  
    06:01:
    In this Wednesday, 26 March 2014 photo, Flight Engineer Ron Day on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, seraches for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean
    A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force AP-3C Orion arrives back at RAAF Base Peace at Bullsbrook, some 35km north of Perth after continuing the search for debris or wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean on 27 March 2014

    The search effort for possible debris in the southern Indian Ocean has been suspended due to bad weather. Among those scheduled to participate in the search were a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, above, and a Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force AP-3C Orion, below.

     
  19.  
    06:15:

    The search area is "home to the strongest current in the world," Dr Erik Van Sebille, an oceanographer from the University of New South Wales, tells the BBC. "Every day debris could move by easily 50, 100 km... this ocean is full of what we call 'eddies', and they're essentially mini hurricanes that spread everything out."

     
  20.  
    06:11: Australia Maritime Safety Authority

    tweets: Update: Ships staying in search area & will attempt to continue searching but all planes returning. Bad weather expected for next 24 hours.

     
  21.  
    06:33:

    Malaysian minister Shahidan Kassim has told the parliament that his government will consider setting up a royal commission of inquiry into the MH370 tragedy after the flight recorder and black box data have been retrieved, Malaysiakini website reports.

     
  22.  
    06:42:
    File photo: One of the two flight recorders of the Air France flight 447, 12 May 2011

    It will be hard to know what happened to the plane without locating its black box. But time is running out. Chris Portale is a director with Dukane Seacom, a company which produces devices that send out a "ping" to help search teams find black boxes.

    "As the battery gets weaker and weaker, the ping's radius is going to get smaller and smaller," Mr Portale told the BBC.

     
  23.  
    06:53:

    "[The ping has] got a range of about two nautical miles, but that is also dependent upon the sea conditions," Mr Portale adds. "If there's a lot of algae or debris it could narrow it, if it's trapped under something it could also reduce it... you really have to be in a close vicinity to pick it up."

     
  24.  
    07:05:

    Many in China have expressed anger at Malaysia's handling of the crisis, with tourist agencies reporting a decrease in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia.

    China's Global Times says in an opinion piece: "There is a worrying sign that the public mood might be fanned by some opinion leaders at the price of ruining [the] good people-to-people relationship between the two countries... Whether Beijing-Kuala Lumpur relations will dim depends to some extent on how the government will act between diplomatic manoeuvring and public opinion."

     
  25.  
    07:15:
    A relative (centre) of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 reacts as she enters a meeting room with volunteers from Malaysia at the Lido Hotel in Beijing, 27 March 2014

    This is the most difficult search in modern aviation history, the BBC's Jonathan Head in Perth reports. The teams don't have a precise location, the seas are incredibly rough, and the reality is that they may never find this plane. But they have to try - for the relatives in particular, it is hard to accept the plane is lost until debris is found.

     
  26.  
    07:31:

    There will be disappointment and frustration that the search has been cancelled, the BBC's Phil Mercer in Perth reports. Once again, conditions in the southern Indian Ocean have proved to be too hostile for the search teams.

     
  27.  
    07:46:

    US law firm Ribbeck Law is preparing to take legal action against Boeing and Malaysia Airlines. They have filed papers in a Chicago court, trying to secure evidence of possible design and manufacturing defects. Paul Ng, head of aviation at law firm Stephenson Harwood, told the BBC it was currently "somewhat of a fishing exercise" to help the law firm decide what steps to take next.

     
  28.  
    Ian Hampton from Cape Town who was involved in the 1987 search for the flight recorder from South African Airways flight 925 that crashed into the Indian Ocean following a fire in the cargo area

    emails: I led the acoustic search for the black box on the wreck of the South African Airways cargo jumbo off Mauritius in 1987 from the South African fisheries research vessel. We were able to locate a duplicate Dukane 38.5 kHz pinger in 4,400m of water at 10 knots and showed that the pinger (probably the same make as on MH370) ping rate slowed down in cold water. (1/2)

     
  29.  
    Ian Hampton from Cape Town who was involved in the 1987 search for the flight recorder from South African Airways flight 925 that crashed into the Indian Ocean following a fire in the cargo area

    emails: There are two implications: The pinger could possibly be located from a faster moving vessel from the surface if the vessel is quiet enough (Africana was) and is equipped with 38 kHz transducers (many research and fishing vessels are). Secondly, in the cold water on the bottom, the pinger could be firing more slowly, which could increase battery life - so it may last longer than the estimated 30 days, which would mean that the pinger search should be extended beyond that. (2/2)

     
  30.  
    08:07:

    AFP news agency reports: "Thailand says satellite images show 300 floating objects in jet search." There are no further details yet.

     
  31.  
    08:11:

    Thai newspaper The Nation also reports that images from a Thai satellite show 300 "floating objects" in the Indian Ocean, about 200km from the search area. The images have been submitted to the government, the report adds.

     
  32.  
    08:21:

    The floating objects were identified by Thailand's Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency. It said that the objects ranged from two to 15 metres in size, scattered over an area about 2,700 km southwest of Perth, AFP reports.

     
  33.  
    08:43:

    To recap: The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has been suspended due to bad weather conditions.

    Lt Cmdr Adam Schantz, in charge of the US Navy's Poseidon P8 plane, said: "The forecast in the area was calling for severe icing, severe turbulence and near-zero visibility."

     
  34.  
    08:44:
    A Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft used in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 prepares to land at Perth International Airport, 27 March 2014

    Eight planes reached the zone but there was no visibility, Australian officials said. The planes are now returning to base. Ships will stay in the search area and try to continue the search.

     
  35.  
    John Ondik from Nairobi, Kenya

    emails: To the search and rescue teams out at sea you are doing a commendable job, bravo, and my heartfelt gratitude to you for what you have given up and the risks you are facing to bring answers to the world.

     
  36.  
    09:05:

    The BBC has spoken to Anond Snidvongs, executive director of Geo Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, who confirmed that Thailand's Thaichote satellite spotted around 200-300 objects in the southern Indian Ocean on Monday. The objects range in size from 2m to 16m. This information was sent to the Malaysian remote sensing agency on Wednesday, the agency said.

    They cannot confirm whether the objects are related to the missing plane.

     
  37.  
    09:16:

    Neither the Malaysian government nor Malaysia Airlines are planning to hold a press conference on Thursday. However, the Malaysian authorities are expected to provide a written statement with the latest developments.

     
  38.  
    09:23:

    To recap: Thailand's Geo Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency says its satellite spotted 200-300 floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean on Monday. The objects were located around 200km from where a French satellite spotted 122 objects on Sunday.

    It is not clear whether the objects are related to the missing plane, and experts have cautioned that there are limits to what can be seen from a satellite.

     
  39.  
    @BBCOS Outside Source TV programme

    tweets: Latest from @PacificCommand in search for #MH370 - US Navy black box locator arrives

     
  40.  
    09:33:
    File photo: Subramaniam Gurusamy, 60, shows a portrait of his son Puspanathan who was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight at his home in Teluk Panglima Garang, outside Kuala Lumpur, 14 March 2014

    Subramaniam Gurusamy's son was on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. He says he will not conduct any funeral prayers until he is convinced his son is dead.

    "How can we say everyone is dead when we have not found the plane or the black box?" he said in an interview with AFP. "There have been instances when someone is lost in the jungle and is believed to have died but comes out alive after many years."

     
  41.  
    09:45:

    China's media and netizens have been extremely critical of the Malaysia-led search operation to locate the missing plane. Some social media users are demanding the boycott of a Malaysian singer's performance, while the Security Times reports that the number of tour bookings to Malaysia has gone down by 50%. You can read more from our China media roundup here.

     
  42.  
    US Pacific Command

    tweets: #Navy #Blackbox locator, unmanned #submarine arriving in #Australia #MH370 @US7thFleet | http://ow.ly/v0MrM

     
  43.  
    10:11:
    Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang, centre, arrives at a hotel to meet Chinese relatives of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in Bangi, Malaysia, 27 March 2014

    China's Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang (centre) met relatives of the passengers on flight MH370 on Thursday. The majority of the 239 passengers were Chinese.

     
  44.  
    10:12:

    A high-level Malaysian team met Chinese relatives of those on board flight MH370 at 15:25 local time (07:25 GMT) for a briefing.

     
  45.  
    10:17:

    "Malaysia is committed to working closely with the government of China and to sharing all information related to MH370 in full," the recent statement from Malaysia's ministry of transport says.

    "Malaysia is working hard to try and make the briefings to the Chinese relatives in Beijing more productive," it added.

     
  46.  
    10:24:

    Malaysia's ministry of transport said the special Chinese envoy, Zhang Yesui, met Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing plane who are currently in Kuala Lumpur.

     
  47.  
    10:36:

    Malaysia's transport ministry says it is "in the process of sending a team" to Perth, which will be made up of representatives from Malaysia Airlines, the aviation ministry, the Royal Malaysian navy and air force. The team will closely work with Australia to assist in the search operation, the ministry says.

     
  48.  
    10:45:

    To recap: On Wednesday, Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said 122 "potential objects" had been seen around 2,557km from Perth based on new French satellite images. He called it a new lead but said investigators did not know whether it was linked to the missing plane.

     
  49.  
    10:56:
    Crew members aboard a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft observe navigation maps as they search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean, 27 March 2014
    A ground crew man works on a Royal Australia Air Force AP-3C Orion at RAAF Base Pearce after it returned from a search operation of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia, Thursday, 27 March 2014
    Flight Lt Russell Adams looks out from the cockpit on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, during a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean, 26 March 2014

    To recap: Australia has been co-ordinating the search in the southern Indian Ocean since 17 March. Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft, shown in these pictures, have been taking part in the search.

     
  50.  
    Stephen Luxford from London

    emails: The recently released images from the French and Thai satellites are from 23rd/24th March. The evidence puts the crash time in the morning of the 8th March. Now that the search area is being narrowed I am surprised that we are not seeing older satellite data from the area, nearer the crash date? Surely any wreckage would be more dense and therefore (relatively) easier to spot and will help pinpoint the area where the plane actually impacted and presumably sunk.

     
  51.  
    11:13:
    This handout picture taken on 24 March 2014 by Thailand's only earth observation satellite and released on 27 March 2014 by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency of Thailand's Ministry of Science and technology shows floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean, thought to possibly be part of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

    A Thai satellite has detected some 300 objects in an area of the southern Indian Ocean where the search for the missing plane is being conducted. Read the news story here.

     
  52.  
    11:26:

    Flight Lieutenant Stephen Graham, co-ordinator of the New Zealand team helping in the search efforts, says the process is a challenging one.

    "It is a little disheartening, you know this will be a difficult mission and you know it will go on for a very long time," he tells AP news agency.

    "But we've done similar work... and we do find them. So there is always hope for us and that's what keeps you going."

     
  53.  
    11:33:

    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said China is sending more ships to join the search.

    "There are five Chinese ships that have already arrived in the relevant sea area designated by Australia where objects suspected to be from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane have been spotted," he said at a regular press briefing.

    He added that three other vessels were also on the way to the area.

     
  54.  
    11:40:
    Ahmad Jauhari Yahya

    Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya spoke with the BBC's Alastair Leithead on Tuesday. When asked if he was standing down from his post, he said it was "a personal decision" that he would consider "later". Watch his interview here.

     
  55.  
    11:48:

    Geng Yansheng, spokesman of China's defence ministry, said in a regular press briefing on Thursday that the search for the missing plane was "top priority".

    "We will continue to make sure enough military strength is available and make all-out effort to conduct the searching operation," he was quoted by state-run CCTV news as saying.

     
  56.  
    11:59:

    Anond Snidvongs, of Thailand's Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, talked to the BBC about the 300 objects spotted by satellite in the search area. Watch his interview here.

     
  57.  
    12:10:

    Malaysian police have opened an investigation into the pilots of flight MH370 in light of a number of revelations.

    The son of pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, however, tells the New Straits Times that he has "ignored all the speculation" against his father. "I know my father better," Ahmad Seth says.

    Who are the pilots of flight MH370? Read about them here.

     
  58.  
    12:15:
    Messages dedicated to the passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and their family members are displayed on a board at a room where the family members are attending a briefing from Malaysian government officials, at the Lido Hotel in Beijing, 27 March 2014

    Vigils have been held around the world for those on board flight MH370. Messages of hope and support also continue to pour in.

     
  59.  
    12:29:

    With the southern hemisphere winter approaching, the weather is likely to be an increasingly problematic factor in what is already the most difficult search operation in modern aviation history, the BBC's Jonathan Head reports from Perth.

     
  60.  
    12:33:

    More from the BBC's Jonathan Head in Perth: Because no aircraft have yet been able to locate any of the objects seen in several satellite images, it is impossible for the five ships now on station in the area to try to retrieve them for identification.

     
  61.  
    12:40:

    Could recent satellite images show the debris of missing flight MH370? See this BBC report.

     
  62.  
    12:42:

    Aviation experts have warned that the crucial moments of doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may never be discovered, as the 'black box' which records details of the flight may have overwritten key data, the Daily Telegraph reports.

     
  63.  
    12:45:

    How much will the families of those who died on MH370 be paid in compensation? CNN attempts to answer what is likely to be a highly contentious issue.

     
  64.  
    Nev Cooper, retired RAF Coastal Command Master Aircrew

    emails: So RAAF aircraft out of RAAF Pearce near Perth only have a 9 to 10 hour airborne time, giving only two to three hours 'on search site'. What a shame the British in their wisdom scrapped all the RAF Avro Shackletons and the Hawker Sidley Nimrods.

    The Shackleton had an almost 24-hour airborne search capability. I flew 21 hours and 20 mins in the MK2 Shackleton now in the MOSI Museum in central Manchester.

     
  65.  
    12:54:

    In an opinion piece in Thursday's Global Times, Wang Wenwen says that while Malaysia has handled the crash aftermath ineptly, raw emotion should not be allowed to determine relations between the Chinese and Malaysian governments.

     
  66.  
    12:58:

    "This is a really rough piece of ocean, which is going to be a terrific issue,'' says Kerry Sieh, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, in relation to the area of sea where the airliner is believed to have crashed. "I worry that people carrying out the rescue mission are going to get into trouble,'' he tells the AP news agency.

     
  67.  
    13:02:

    Relatives of the passengers have been reacting to the latest satellite images. "Until something is picked up and analysed to make sure it's from MH370 we can't believe it... without anything found, it's just clues,'' Steve Wang, whose 57-year-old mother was aboard the flight, tells the AP news agency in Beijing.

     
  68.  
    13:14:
    Two members of the Malaysia Airlines special assistance team attend a meeting with relatives of passengers in a Beijing hotel

    Malaysia Airlines staff in Beijing have faced tough questions from the relatives of passengers on flight MH370 as to its handling of the disaster.

     
  69.  
    13:20:

    New York Magazine says that there is a growing belief that MH370 became a "ghost plane", flying until it ran out of fuel. It has provided five case studies of other "ghost flights".

     
  70.  
    13:25:

    A computer model provided by the University of Western Australia on the Channel 4 News website shows how debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight might have spread across the ocean surface during the days since it disappeared.

     
  71.  
    13:30:

    The fatigue experienced by spotters looking for MH370 is detailed in the New Straits Times.

     
  72.  
    13:34:

    Even before flight MH370 disappeared, Malaysia Airlines was neck-deep in financial trouble, CNN reports, and may need to be rescued by the government.

     
  73.  
    13:42:

    Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak - in the Philippines to oversee the signing of a peace deal between the government and Islamic rebels - said the loss of the 239 people on board flight MH370 "has been devastating" and Malaysia is "grateful for the support of friends and neighbours, including the Philippines".

     
  74.  
    13:54:

    The youngest son of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah has broken his family's silence on the plane's disappearance, rejecting speculation that the veteran aviator was somehow responsible. "I've read everything online. But I've ignored all the speculation. I know my father better," Ahmad Seth Zaharie, 26, said in an interview published on Thursday by the New Straits Times, an English-language Malaysian newspaper.

     
  75.  
    Agence France-Presse

    tweets: MH370 tragedy casts pall over Malaysian Grand Prix http://u.afp.com/YA8

     
  76.  
    14:00:

    And that brings our live coverage of events on Thursday surrounding the disappearance of Flight MH370 to an end. You can see more coverage on the news pages of the BBC website. But before we go here are the news highlights from Thursday:

    • A Thai satellite has detected some 300 objects in an area of the southern Indian Ocean
    • Searches by planes were suspended on Thursday because of poor visibility
    • Ships are reported to be trying to continue the operation despite the bad weather
    • There is now a growing body of circumstantial evidence suggesting that the airliner crashed in an inhospitable part of the Indian Ocean
     

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