Recovery efforts for MH370 debris suspended due to bad weather

File photo of a Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER aircraft. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
File photo of a Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER aircraft. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
A day after Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with 239 people on board, had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, recovery operations had to suspended for the day today due to gale force winds and heavy swells in the search.
The Boeing 777-200 ER was on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared off the radars without a trace in the early hours of March 8.
The Australian Maritime Security Authority (AMSA) said the search and recovery operation aircraft in the southern Indian Ocean would resume tomorrow, when the weather improved.
The focus is now on search and recovery of any objects related to the ill-fated aircraft, whose passengers included five Indians and a Canadian of Indian origin.
As many as twelve aircraft are expected to be involved in the search tomorrow, including seven military aircraft and five civil aircraft. 
A press release from AMSA said HMAS Success would return to the search area tomorrow and conduct a surface sweep of an area identified on Monday afternoon by a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion as the location for several objects of interest. 
A total of six countries are now assisting in the search – Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea. India has also offered to join the search and recovery operation, it said.
China’s polar supply ship Xue Long (Snow Dragon) and three other Chinese ships are expected to arrive in the search area tomorrow.
HMAS success had departed the search area early this morning due to the rough seas.
Last night, HMAS Success attempted to locate objects sighted by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion aircraft. The objects were spotted visually in the search area by the RAAF P3 Orion about 2.45 pm (AEDT). 
"Drift modelling was undertaken to assist search efforts. HMAS Success was unable to relocate the objects," the release said.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines Chairman Mohammed Nor Mohammed Yusof said the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday meant that everyone had to now accept the "painful reality that the aircraft is now lost and that none of the passengers or crew on board survived".
"This is a sad and tragic day for all of us at Malaysia Airlines. While not entirely unexpected after an intensive multi-national search across a 2.24 million square mile area, this news is clearly devastating for the families of those on board. They have waited for over two weeks for even the smallest hope of positive news about their loved ones," he said.
He said the disappearance of the aircraft had been an unprecedented event requiring an unprecedented response. 
"The investigation still underway may yet prove to be even longer and more complex than it has been since March 8th. But we will continue to support the families – as we have done throughout. And to support the authorities as the search for definitive answers continues," he said.
Mr Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Group Chief Executive Officer, Malaysia Airlines said he and his colleagues were overcome by enormous sorrow and pain.
"My heart breaks to think of the unimaginable pain suffered by all the families. There are no words which can ease that pain. Everyone in the Malaysia Airlines family is praying for the 239 souls on MH370 and for their loved ones on this dark day. We extend our prayers and sincere condolences.
"We all feel enormous sorrow and pain. Sorrow that all those who boarded Flight MH370 on Saturday 8th March, will not see their families again. And that those families will now have to live on without those they love.  It must be remembered too that 13 of our own colleagues and fellow Malaysians were also on board," he said.
He said the airline had tried to ensure that, in the incredibly short amount of time available to it, the families heard the tragic news before the world did. 
"Wherever humanly possible, we did so in person with the families or by telephone, using SMS only as an additional means of ensuring fully that the nearly 1,000 family members heard the news from us and not from the media," he said.
"Ever since the disappearance of Flight MH370 Malaysia Airlines’ focus has been to comfort and support the families of those involved and support the multi-national search effort. We will continue to do this, while we also continue to support the work of the investigating authorities in the Southern Indian Ocean.
"Like everyone else, we are waiting for news from those authorities. We know that while there have been an increasing number of apparent leads, definitive identification of any piece of debris is still missing. It is impossible to predict how long this will take. But after 17 days, the announcement made last night and shared with the families is the reality which we must now accept. When Malaysia Airlines receives approval from the investigating authorities, arrangements will be made to bring the families to the recovery areas if they so wish. Until that time, we will continue to support the ongoing investigation. And may I express my thanks to the Government and all of those involved in this truly global search effort," he said.
He said the families of those on board had been provided with two dedicated caregivers each.
"In addition, hotel accommodation for up to five family members per passenger, transportation, meals and others expenses have been provided since 8th March and that will continue.
"Malaysia Airlines has already provided initial financial assistance of USD 5,000 per passenger to the next of kin. We recognize that financial support is not the only consideration. But the prolonged search is naturally placing financial strain on the relatives. We are therefore preparing to offer additional payments as the search continues," he said.
"This unprecedented event in aviation history has made the past 18 days the greatest challenge to face our entire team at Malaysia Airlines. I have been humbled by the hard work, dedication, heartfelt messages of concern and offers of support from our remarkable team. We do not know why, and we do not know how this terrible tragedy happened. But as the Malaysia Airlines family, we are all praying for the passengers and crew of Flight MH370," he added.

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