THE Australian Defence Minister said rough weather conditions have delayed any attempt to find any wreckage from Flight MH370, stressing that everything remained “virtually speculation” until a piece of debris was recovered and positively identified.
Speaking to the world’s media from RAAF Base Pearce in Perth on Tuesday morning, David Johnston told reporters to search had been suspended until weather conditions improved.
“This part of the world, this southern ocean, has shipwrecked many sailors in our history in Western Australia,” Mr Johnston said.
“It is rough, there are 20-30 metre waves, it is very very dangerous, even for big class ships.
“We are doing everything we can to first of all make a positive identification on a piece of debris that will mean that we are on the right track.
“That’s not going to happen, I wouldn’t think, for at least another 24 hours because we’ve had to redeploy our ships given the bad weather.”
Mr Johnston stressed that at this stage, no debris had been recovered.
“This is a mystery, and until we recover and positively identify a piece of debris, everything is virtually speculation,” he said.
“To this point in time we have not successfully identified and recovered any debris from the aircraft in question.
“It’s very easy to speculate about being close. ‘Close’ in this part of the world could be several hundred kilometres.”
Air Marshal Mark Binskin said the search wasn’t just like looking for a needle in a haystack, he said they were still trying to define where the haystack was.
The HMAS Success has been relocated to the south of the search zone as a safety precaution while bad weather hampered the operation.
Officials are hoping for calmer weather over the coming days, with a number of additional international teams expected to join the search, including more Chinese and Korean ships.
The new Australian maritime asset, the Ocean Shield, will also join the search fleet in the coming days.