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Severe Weather Halts Malaysia Plane Search as Satellites Find New Debris

Severe Weather Halts Malaysia Plane Search as Satellites Find New Debris

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continues to narrow as two more satellites find debris fields in a remote location of the southwestern Indian Ocean. Search operations halted Thursday, however, as “severe icing” warnings put search teams at risk.

According to Reuters, search teams received both good and bad news on Thursday, as both Thai and Japanese satellites found what they thought were “up to 300” objects in the same location that Chinese, French, and Australian satellites had seen it before. The Wall Street Journal adds that the Japanese satellite found “up to ten objects,” some as large as two meters long. The Thai satellite found about 300 objects of varying size, and were located slightly farther east from Perth than the Japanese discoveries. 

The number of objects and size have made some question whether they could possibly be from the plane itself. One former CIA analyst tells CNN that the objects could likely be whitecaps; CNN aviation expert Jeff Wise adds that there is a possibility that the amount of debris is far more than the plane was capable of producing, and the size of said debris will make a large difference in verifying that this was, in fact, Flight 370.

Anond Snidvongs, the head of Thailand’s space technology development agency, warned Reuters that while the discoveries brought search groups hope of finding the plane, “We have never said that the pieces are part of MH370 but have so far identified them only as floating objects.”

Those satellite discoveries could not be corroborated in person today, however, as inclement weather halted the operation yet again. Meteorologists predicted severe icing and wind in the area, which would put any vehicle searching the area in danger. While search operations continued yesterday, weather proved a problem on Tuesday, as well.

Despite the lack of concrete evidence, the Malaysian government announced this week that they had concluded “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the flight had “ended” in the southwestern Indian Ocean, about a three-hour flight from Perth, Australia. There were no survivors. Malaysian authorities have also not given any motive for the plane’s demise, though some reports suggest that police are reviewing the possibility that the plane’s pilots were on a “suicide mission.” Relatives of those on board refused to accept the declaration without evidence and stormed the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, where Chinese police, in a rare display of restraint, permitted an organized protest. In response to the criticism, Malaysia has been more collaborative with the Chinese government, providing Chinese officials with an “extensive” briefing on the search in Kuala Lumpur today.

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