Bad weather has brought the Indian Ocean search for debris from MH370 to a halt and searchers are waiting for conditions to abate.
The search for debris from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean has been suspended due to bad weather.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) says HMAS Success has left the search area because of rough seas.
It will head south until the seas – with waves up to two metres and a swell up to four metres – abate.
The search area is also forecast to experience strong gale force winds of up to 80km/h, periods of heavy rain, and low cloud with a ceiling between 200 and 500 feet, AMSA said in a statement on Tuesday morning.
“AMSA has undertaken a risk assessment and determined that the current weather conditions would make any air and sea search activities hazardous and pose a risk to crew,” it said.
“Therefore, AMSA has suspended all sea and air search operations for today due to these weather conditions.”
AMSA says it consulted with the Bureau of Meteorology and weather conditions are expected to improve in the search area in the evening and over the next few days.
“Search operations are expected to resume tomorrow, if weather conditions permit,” AMSA said.
HMAS Success will return to the search area once weather conditions improve.
On Monday night, the ship attempted to locate objects sighted by a RAAF P3 Orion aircraft but was unable to find them.
The Malaysian government says it now believes the plane crashed in the desolate southern Indian Ocean, with no survivors.
“In light of the statement by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak overnight, AMSA offers its deepest sympathies to the families of the passengers and crew of flight MH370,” AMSA said.
The airline has released a statement saying it must now be assumed the flight has been lost.
The families of MH370′s passengers have been “at the heart of every action the company has taken” since the jet disappeared on March 8.
“When Malaysia Airlines receives approval from the investigating authorities, arrangements will be made to bring the families to the recovery area and until that time we will continue to support the ongoing investigation.”
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said Malaysia’s announcement moved the operation to a new phase.
Under international conventions Malaysia would control investigations and Australia stood ready to assist, he said.
“Essentially it will be a matter now for the Malaysian government to request what assistance they may need to undertake the investigation,” he said.
Mr Truss said many nations would want to be involved, including Malaysia, the US where the Boeing 777 aircraft was built, and countries with passengers aboard, including Australia.
“We would expect some direction and requests from the Malaysian government in due course about what action they want to be taken from now on,” he said.