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Missing Plane MH370: Poor Weather Hampers Australian Search Efforts

21/03/2014 09:15 GMT | Updated 21/03/2014 13:59 GMT

Efforts to find debris that may be linked to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been hindered by poor weather.

According to ABC News, the captain of the first plane to return from the search zone described weather conditions as "extremely bad".

The RAAF Orion plane was unable to locate the debris located on satellite images because of limited visibility from cloud and rain.

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Royal Australian Air Force search over the Southern Indian Ocean off Western Australian

"The weather conditions were such that we were unable to see for very much of the flight today but the other aircraft that are searching, they may have better conditions," said Flight Lieutenant Chris Birrer.

Five aircraft have been deployed to the search area today, 2,700km southwest of Perth in western Australia, to identify two objects detected by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) earlier this week.

They will be searching more than 35,000 square kilometres of ocean.

Australian aviation expert, Geoffrey Thomas told Radio 4's Today programme yesterday that the recovery could be 'mission impossible'

He said: "The ocean floor is 10,000 feet down and we're approaching winter. The sea level is beginning to rise up to 17 metres, and during winter it can swell up to 30-40 metres in height, so it would be a very challenging recovery."

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The Ministry of Defence has announced that it is sending a survey ship, HMS Echo, to help with the search.

The ship, which was put into service in 2002, is 3,470 tons and has previously been deployed in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean as well as a previous four-year spell in the Far East.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss confirmed that weather conditions in the area were poor and may get worse.

“This is a very, very difficult and challenging search. Weather conditions are not particularly good and risk that they may deteriorate,’’ Mr Truss told the ABC.

The Prime Minister has also been forced to defend his decision to announce that the satellite images could be a potential breakthrough in the search for the missing plane.

After being accused of 'jumping the gun', he told a press conference in Papua New Guinea that he owed it to the relatives and friends of the passengers and crew to reveal details at the first opportunity.