The Australian-led search for a missing Malaysia Airlines flight resumed today after a Norwegian merchant ship arrived in the target area off the West Australian coast.
However, the federal government is warning it could take days to find the objects thought to be wreckage from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, as bad weather hampers the 23,000 square kilometre Indian Ocean search.
The Australian-led search of the massive area 2500km southwest of Perth has resumed after Australian and US aircraft failed on Thursday to locate the two objects photographed by a satellite earlier in the week.
Four military aircraft – two Royal Australian Air Force Orions, a New Zealand Orion and a US Navy P8 Poseidon – will scour the area on Friday.
The Norwegian merchant vessel St Petersburg remains in the area and another merchant vessel is expected to arrive on Friday night. The navy’s HMAS Success is also en route, expected to arrive on Saturday.
“To date, no sightings have been reported,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in its first update on Friday.
Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said weather conditions were poor.
He said the search would be “difficult and challenging”, particularly because the objects could have moved a long distance since the satellite spotted them on March 16.
The government has cautioned that while the satellite images are “credible”, the objects may turn out to be unrelated to the plane.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Papua New Guinea on Thursday night it was the most promising lead so far in the search for flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board almost two weeks ago.
“We don’t know what that satellite saw until we get a much closer look at it but this is the most tangible clue in what’s been an utterly baffling mystery,” he said.
“We are throwing all the resources we can at it.
“We will do everything we humanly can to try to get to the bottom of this.”
Defence Minister David Johnston was cautious of raising any false hopes.
“We are several days away from having an idea of the credibility and veracity of this (satellite) report,” Johnston told ABC TV.
The images of the debris were captured on March 16 and are likely to have moved since then, so searchers are trying to cover an area of more than 23,000 square kilometres.
Two RAFF P-3C Orions, a US Navy P8 Poseidon, and a Royal New Zealand Air ForceP-3K2 Orion were utilised, along with an RAAF C-130J Hercules aircraft went to the area on Thursday.
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