PERTH, Australia- Wild weather halted the search Tuesday for wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed into the Indian Ocean, frustrating attempts to determine why it veered off course and bring closure to grieving relatives.
The air and sea mission for MH370 was suspended for the day due to gale force winds, driving rain and huge waves, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority which is coordinating the multinational hunt southwest of Perth.
It was another body blow for relatives, whose hopes were extinguished Monday when a sombre Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said new analysis of satellite data placed the flight’s last position “far from any possible landing sites.”
“It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” Najib said.
The plane went missing on March 8 with 239 people aboard — two thirds of them Chinese — dropping off air traffic control screens in what has become one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history.
News that the plane was lost with no survivors, far from its intended route between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, touched off deep despair among relatives in both cities who had endured an agonizing 17-day wait.
“What can I say? I had the belief that my son would return home safely. But what can be done?” asked Subramaniam Gurusamy, whose 34-year-old son was on board.
“This is fate. We must accept it,” he said, his voice choking with emotion.
In Beijing, family members who had gathered in a hotel ballroom were crushed by the announcement. Many sobbed uncontrollably, while others collapsed and were taken away on stretchers.
Some lashed out at reporters, and a group of 30 Chinese relatives later vented their anger, decrying Malaysian authorities as “murderers”.