The search for the wreckage of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines jetliner in the southern Indian Ocean was temporarily suspended Tuesday. Australian officials, citing “horrendous” weather, temporarily halted operations in the remote and treacherous seas where it is believed the plane crashed.
At a news briefing Tuesday at Pearce Air Force Base, David Johnston, Australia’s defense minister, reported that no debris has yet been recovered despite multiple sighting reports from spotters.
He said that one Australian vessel was forced to redeploy 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of its original position due to current weather conditions. He described the region as “one of the most remote parts of the planet,” adding that it is one that has “shipwrecked many sailors.”
The Indian government called off its search in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, following the announcement Monday from Malaysian authorities that they believe that Flight 370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean. A senior government official told reporters that India will leave two of its planes at a Malaysian air force base as part of the multinational search effort.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines said its focus remains on caring for the relatives of the missing flight’s 239 passengers and crew members despite the damage that has been done to the airline as a result of the accident. The airline’s chief executive officer, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, told reporters that, in the coming days, it will authorize payments beyond the initial $5,000 that has already gone to relatives. In addition, it will offer relatives the opportunity to visit the recovery areas once authorities grant approval.