Despite the best lead yet, inclement weather again derailed the search for the wreckage of MH370. The ill-fated Malaysia Airlines aircraft is believed to have perished in the Southern Indian Ocean, with the Malaysian government formally announcing its suspicions on Monday. The multi-national search is now focusing on satellite imagery from Japan and Thailand, both of which spotted around 300 floating objects near the presumed crash site.
The Thai satellite located a cluster of objects ranging in size from six feet to 53 feet long, around 1,675 miles from the western coast of Australia. The Japanese images reveal an object measuring around 13 by 26 feet, as well as several smaller objects. The objects appeared around 1,550 miles from the Australian coast.
The location is perhaps one of the most inaccessible and treacherous reaches of ocean in the world, and no debris has been found. It's approaching three weeks since the disappearance of MH370, with families of the passengers resigned to the harrowing, protracted wait.
"Until something is picked up and analyzed to make sure it's from MH370 we can't believe it, but without anything found it's just clues," said Steve Wang of Beijing, whose mother was onboard the flight. "Without that, it's useless."
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority withdrew each of the 11 aircrafts assigned to the air search as rough weather impeded their efforts, though five ships remained on the ocean. Australian meteorologists expect the poor conditions to last at least 24 hours, with each lost minute threatening the search.
Though the official line is that all passengers aboard MH370 died in the crash, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has hinted that the Malaysian government will pursue a search and rescue mission if the imagery revealed in the satellite photographs is in fact plane debris. "If (the debris) is confirmed to be from MH370, then we can move on to deep sea surveillance search and rescue, hopefully, hoping against hope," said Hishammuddin.
Other authorities are remaining cautious. "There's always a possibility we might not actually find something next week or the week after," said Mark Binskin, the deputy chief of the Australian Defence Force, in an interview with CNN. "I think eventually, something will come to light, but it's going to take time."
The hunt for debris is crucial. Apart from leading search teams to possible survivors, legitimate debris could also indicate where the plane's black box went down. Upon retrieval, the black box could provide key information around the plane's disappearance - a tragedy that remains hindered by a frustrating lack of concrete leads.