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Pilots "motivated" despite merciless Southern Ocean

English.news.cn   2014-03-27 18:58:33

by Christian Edwards

PERTH, Australia, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The pilot of the only military aircraft able to complete a visual sweep of the Southern Ocean on Thursday has told Xinhua there is still hope of finding proof that Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 went down in the remote waters known as the "roaring forties."

Royal Canadian Airforce (RCA) Captain Mike MacSween commanding an Australian P3 Orion landed at the Pearce Airbase, just before 17:00 Beijing time.

An evidently fatigued MacSween spoke directly with gathered media after disembarking and described the worsening conditions as "definitely not ideal."

"The weather today was the biggest factor," He said.

Using the latest satellite telemetry that has narrowed the search down to an area twice the size of Belgium, MacSween's multi- national crew plotted a sortie over two to three hours for any signs of where MH370 may have gone down.

"We conducted three hours visual search... from 600 feet to surface level."

MacSween reported visibility at five miles to zero visibility.

"We were unable to locate anything," He said.

The Canadian captain's P3 Orion was able to maintain "regular contact" with the Australian warship HMAS Success, he said, adding, "They (also) have nothing to report."

MacSween told Xinhua his crew did not make contact with the growing flotilla of Chinese search and rescue vessels now in the Southern Ocean, confirming the Chinese vessels spent Thursday in a different region of the notoriously rough seas.

Despite earlier reports that worsening conditions would again suspend the search, RAAF Captain Adrian Miller confirmed to Xinhua that while the international squadron of aircraft had been re- tasked back to the Perth international airport and the RAAF's Pearce Airbase, the search for MH370 was not suspended.

Australia's Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) which has coordinated efforts from Canberra reported six military aircraft, five civilian aircraft and five ships were among the assets deployed on Thursday.

However, with conditions in the deep southern ocean predicted to continue worsening over the next 24-48 hours, aircraft will no longer be able to continue their essential role as the eyes of the global effort.

Frustration, tension and confusion have marked an extraordinary international effort that has spanned across the Asia-Pacific over nearly three weeks.

Desperate to put some perspective on the geographical challenges alone, Vice Chief of the Australian Defense Force (ADF) Air Marshal Mark Binskin told reporters on Tuesday, "We are not searching for a needle in a haystack."

"But still trying to define where the haystack is," Air Marshall Minskin declared.

A throng of international media has gathered at the Pearce Airbase for any possible signs or evidence in the protracted search for any debris of MH370, which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, with 239 passengers and crew on board.

Families of the lost continue to defy Malaysian authorities - having now endured 20 days of unimaginable emotion - and have variously wrestled or rejected the conclusion of Prime Minister Najib Razak who "assumed beyond reasonable doubt."

Australia's Defense Minister David Johnston has also expressed the need for a more decisive conclusion.

Speaking to reporters here Tuesday, Johnston said his priority remained absolute proof.

"The turning point for us will be when we pull some debris from the ocean and positively identify it."

That remains the focus of the ever-expanding media scrum at the Pearce Airbase.

Encouragingly, it is clear that remains the focus of the international teams working so heroically in such atrocious conditions.

After a short statement, a pale Captain MacSween insisted all hope was not lost.

"The crew are still motivated and hopefully able to find something soon."

So many hopes go with them.

Related:

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia announced Wednesday that 122 potential objects have been identified in new satellite imagery that might be connected to the ongoing search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Full story

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Editor: chengyang
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