MH370: bad weather halts search as 'unidentified material' found on Australian coast

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MH370: bad weather halts search as 'unidentified material' found on Australian coast

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Shortly after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced unidentified material had washed up on the Australian coastline, the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was temporarily suspended.

Recovery efforts are being focused largely in the waters off the coast of Perth in western Australia. Speaking on Wednesday, Australian PM Tony Abbott said the hunt for the missing plane will not be abandoned, and insisted the cost of the operation is not a concern.

However, hours later Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister announced search teams had been recalled, due to “potentially hazardous” weather conditions.

“The search has been suspended for today due to poor weather conditions in the search area,” Hishamuddin Hussein announced.

“Three aircraft had already departed for the search area prior to the suspension taking effect. They have been recalled. Current weather conditions are resulting in heavy seas and poor visibility and are making search activities ineffective and potentially hazardous.”

Hussein also used the news conference to announce the appointment of an international team to investigate the jetliner’s disappearance.

“The main purpose of the international investigation team is to evaluate, investigate and determine the actual cause of the accident so similar accidents could be avoided in the future,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

International search efforts have been ongoing since the jetliner vanished from radar screens on March 8, carrying 239 passengers and crew.

Abbott said if the current underwater search was unsuccessful, a new strategy would begin.

The Australian Defence Minister David Johnston added that powerful sonar equipment will probably be deployed in the next stage.

No wreckage has been identified yet, but Australian officials are carrying out analysis of the items which were washed up on the beach.