Missing Malaysia Flight MH370: Spotter planes flying low over Indian Ocean fail to find any sign of jet

Satellite pictures from earlier this week showing two large objects floating in the ocean about 1,500 miles south-west of Perth


Despite clear weather and visibility of more than six miles, spotter planes flying low over a remote patch of the southern Indian Ocean failed to find any sign of the Malaysian Airlines jet missing for the past two weeks.

Satellite pictures from earlier this week showing two large objects floating in the ocean about 1,500 miles south-west of Perth had raised hopes of finding debris from Flight MH370, which vanished with 239 passengers and crew en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, creating one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries.

The search will continue in what the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, called “about the most inaccessible spot that you could imagine on the face of the Earth”, with Chinese and Japanese aircraft set to join Australian and US planes this weekend.

However, the Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, standing in for Mr Abbott who is visiting Papua New Guinea, appeared to dampen down expectations, warning that the objects “would have moved a significant distance… potentially hundreds of kilometres” from the site where they were photographed, or even sunk.

Latest: 'China spots possible debris in southern corridor'

In the Indian Ocean, three Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orions joined a hi-tech US Navy P-8 Poseidon and a civilian Bombardier Global Express jet, flying back and forth over a lonely stretch of sea. Because the area is four hours’ flying time from Perth, they could search only for two hours before heading back to land to refuel.

Rather than using radar, which found nothing on Thursday, the search relied mainly on trained spotters scanning the ocean.

“Noting that we got no radar detections yesterday, we have re-planned the search to be visual,” said John Young, manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s emergency response division.

“So, aircraft [are] flying relatively low, very highly skilled and trained observers looking out of the aircraft windows and looking to see objects.”Two Chinese aircraft are expected to arrive in Perth today, and two Japanese planes on Sunday. China has also sent a flotilla of ships which are still several days away. A Norwegian cargo vessel is already in the Indian Ocean, helping with a search which over the past fortnight has involved more than two dozen countries.

“We are doing all that we can, devoting all the resources we can, and we will not give up until all of the options have been exhausted,” said Mr Truss.

Malaysian authorities believe the Boeing 777 veered drastically off course – with its communication systems disabled – as a result of deliberate action by someone on board. The most likely scenarios, they say, were a hijacking, pilot sabotage or a sudden mid-air technical crisis.

On Friday angry and anguished relatives confronted Malaysian officials in a Beijing hotel, but emerged none the wiser.

Nan Jinyan, whose brother-in-law, Yan Ling, was a passenger on MH370, told Associated Press: “I’m psychologically prepared for the worst, and I know the chances of them coming back alive are extremely small.”

Read more: 'Electrical fire caused plane to crash into the sea'
Transcript of last hour shows plane was flying at 35,000 feet
Search remains focused on finding passengers alive

Mr Abbott said he had spoken to the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, who was “devastated”. “If there’s anything down there, we will find it,” he said. “We owe it to the families of those people to do no less.”

While the current focus is on the southern Indian Ocean, about halfway between Australia and Antarctica, aircraft and ships are also searching the Andaman Sea, between India and Thailand. A wide arc sweeping northwards from Laos to Kazakhstan is also being searched.

With every day that passes, the chances of retrieving the plane’s “black box” voice and data recorder shrink. The box will transmit an electronic signal for about 30 days before its battery dies.

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home