Bad weather halts hunt for downed Malaysia jet - Australia

SYDNEY, March 25 Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:05pm EDT

SYDNEY, March 25 (Reuters) - Australian search and rescue authorities said on Tuesday bad weather and rough seas had forced the suspension of the hunt for a Malaysian jetliner missing for more than two weeks, scuppering hopes for a speedy recovery of suspected debris.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said gale force winds, heavy rain and low cloud meant planes could not fly safely, and heavy seas meant an Australian navy ship was leaving the area where possible debris had been sighted on Monday.

"AMSA has consulted with the Bureau of Meteorology and weather conditions are expected to improve in the search area in the evening and over the next few days. Search operations are expected to resume tomorrow, if weather conditions permit," it said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Monday new analysis of faint satellite pings confirmed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had crashed into the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board.

The search area, about 2,500 km (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth, is thousands of miles from its planned flight path in one of the most isolated regions in the world, far from any land or commercial airline routes. (Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by John Mair)

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