A multinational air-and-sea search has found no trace of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 after a second day of targeted searching in the southern Indian Ocean.
Authorities have identified two objects which may be from the plane on satellite images almost 2,500 kilometres off the coast of Western Australia, but despite clear weather and visibility of more than 10 kilometres, searches have not found the debris.
Three Australian Orions, a long-range Bombardier Global Express corporate jet and a US Navy P8 were involved in the search, each of them spending about two hours scouring the zone before having to turn back to refuel.
Malaysia’s transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein says China has deployed five ships and three helicopters to assist with the search in coming days.
“We are still awaiting from the Australian search and rescue operation as to whether the objects shown in the satellite images released by Australia yesterday are indeed related to MH370,” he told reporters at a briefing in Kuala Lumpur.
“In the meantime, we are continuing search and rescue operations in the rest of the southern and northern corridors.”
Mr Hussein says Japan will provide assets to assist with the search, including two P3 Orions that will be based in Perth.
“We continue to receive offers of assistance including specialist assets that can help with the search and rescue and we welcome all assistance as we continue to follow every credible lead,” Mr Hussein said.
Improved visibility fails to help in search for debris
Warren Truss, who is Acting Prime Minister while Prime Minister Tony Abbott is in Papua New Guinea, says a number of merchant vessels have also participated in the search.
“The weather has been better than yesterday and the searching is continuing as we speak,” he told reporters in Perth earlier.
“The travel time is so long to get to this search site that, when the aircraft get there, they have only got one or two hours on site before they have to return for refuelling.
“They are making as many trips as they can so the search can be as thorough as possible. There is something like 26,000 square kilometres in the search area.”
Flight Lieutenant Russell Adams, who was on board an Australian aircraft, says he is hopeful that searchers will find something soon.
“The visibility was great. We had better than 10 kilometres visibility,” he said.
“With any luck we’ll find something shortly.”
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is coordinating search efforts, says the efforts have been refocused since yesterday.
“We got no radar detections yesterday,” AMSA’s emergency response division general manager John Young said in a video update earlier.
“We have replanned the search to be visual. So the aircraft flying relatively low, [with] very highly skilled and trained observers looking out of the aircraft windows… looking to see [the] objects.
“That means the aircraft are spaced more closely together and we will need more aircraft for a search of that type.”
The second day of the targeted search effort concluded at about 10pm AEDT.
“Although this search area is much smaller than we started with, it nonetheless is a big area when you are looking out the window and trying to see something by eye,” he said.
“We may have to do this a few times to be confident with the coverage of that search area.”
‘We owe it to families to provide information’: Abbott
Earlier, Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters that he did not “jump the gun” by telling Parliament that satellite footage had found possible debris.
Mr Abbott says he has a duty to keep the families of those missing informed on every development in the search for the jet.
“Now it could just be a container that’s fallen off a ship, we just don’t know,” he said.
“But we owe it to the families and the friends and the loved ones of the almost 240 people on flight MH370 to do everything we can to try to resolve what is as yet an extraordinary riddle.
“We also owe it to them to give them information as soon as it’s to hand and I think I was doing that yesterday in the Parliament.”