UK & World News
MH370 Teams 'Right To Call Off Operation'
Dangerous conditions have forced Australian authorities to call off the search for flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, which is affected by volatile weather at the best of times.
The international hunt was suspended late on Tuesday (early Wednesday local time) due to six-metre (20ft) waves, 50mph (80kph) gale-force winds and low-hanging clouds.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) hopes to restart the hunt later in the day as the conditions are forecast to improve.
Marine scientist Dr Rob Beaman told Sky News that Tropical Cyclone Gillian, to the north of the search zone, has combined with a low-pressure system to cause the wild conditions in the search zone off the Western Australian coast.
"The cyclone is a long way from the search area but unfortunately with these cyclones, they are such big beasts, they influence a vast area," said Dr Beaman, from Cairns James Cook University.
"What's happened is it's combined with a low-pressure system that's also sweeping in affecting the whole western coast of Western Australia. And it reaches far down south into the search area."
Former Royal Australian Air Force crew member Mark Ryan has extensive experience flying the AP-3C Orion aircraft being used in the search off Western Australia.
He told Sky News it was essential the search was suspended in such dangerous weather conditions.
"When the sea is so rough and you've got gale-force winds out there, mini tornadoes, or sea spouts, are whipped up," he said.
"They appear on radar as a radar contact, so the crew get excited and the crew start homing in on one of these water spouts - but you actually don't see it until the last minute."
The low-pressure system is expected to leave the area within a few days, but Cyclone Gillian, although weakening, will likely stay around for longer.
Dr Beaman said: "We can expect that once the low-pressure system that's causing the inclement weather in the search area moves to the east, behind it should be some better weather."
Surface currents are also being tracked to try and estimate the effect of the weather on the movement of any possible debris.
The region where the search zone lies is known for its huge swells and waves.
"It's a nasty part of the world simply because there's no land to break up any of this swell and waves - it's uncomfortable to be there any time," Dr Beaman said.
"You really need a strong stomach to work in that area so I really feel for the people who are out there doing the search."
Malaysian officials said they were now sure flight MH370 crashed in the remote Indian Ocean with the loss of all 239 people on board.