Poor weather hampers Indian Ocean search for MH370

Search teams scouring the Southern India Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been hampered by low visibility as cloud and fog descended over parts of the area, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.

Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lieutenant Russell Adams told the Australian daily that heavy cloud reduced his crew's ability to see the ocean from their P3-Orion, which he said was "completely" engulfed in cloud at times, even at its lowest altitude.

"There are other aircraft out there searching other areas who were getting better visibility," Adams told SMH.

Australian search authorities have previously said that efforts had shifted to a "visual search" rather than onboard technology.

Although there have been three reports of satellite sightings of possible debris, search teams so far had only seen a wooden cargo pallet along with belts or straps.

"Part of the description was a wooden pallet and a number of other items which were nondescript around it and some belts of some different colours around it as well, strapping belts of different lengths," Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) aircraft operations coordinator Mike Barton said yesterday.

Captain Adams said flight crews were working directly with the rescue coordination centre in Australia and were "being tasked appropriately" based on information, including satellite imagery, as it became available to Australian authorities, reported the SMH.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had said that he was hopeful of discovering the fate of flight MH370 after a number of credible leads so far. Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss had said that the Australian search would continue indefinitely, "as long as there's hope."

The Southern Indian Ocean satellite images were seen as the most credible lead in the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. – March 24, 2014.