Cyclone warning raised in southern corridor as search for MH370 yields no result

SEPANG - Malaysia says weather conditions in the southern corridor where debris possibly related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was spotted by satellite are very challenging.

"In the area where the possible objects were identified by the Australian authorities, there are strong currents and rough seas,'' Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a daily press briefing on Saturday.

"A cyclone warning has been declared for Tropical Cyclone Gillian, which is located in the southern corridor. Very strong winds and rough seas are expected there today,'' he said.

He added that the ocean varies between 1,150m and 7,000m in depth.

But authorities are still pressing on with the search, with more countries deploying their assets.

"With respect to the southern corridor, today two Chinese Ilyushin IL-76s will arrive in Perth to begin operations. The Shaanxi Y-8 which arrived yesterday will be operating from Subang air base in Malaysia,

"China is also sending an additional two ships from the Andaman Sea to join the five Chinese ships already in the southern corridor,'" he said.

Two Indian aircraft, a P-8 Poseidon and C-130 Hercules, also arrived in Malaysia on Friday night to assist with the search.

A concurrent search in the northern corridor has also yielded no results.

"In the northern corridor, in response to diplomatic notes, we can confirm that China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Laos, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have verbally informed the search and rescue operation that, based on preliminary analysis, there have been no sightings of the aircraft on their radar," said Mr Hishammudin.

He also told reporters that reports on a transcript of communication between MH370 and air traffic control are being investigated

He said briefing for families in Kuala Lumpur went well, but meeting in Beijing was "less productive".

"The roller coaster has been incredibly hard for everyone, especially for the families," he said.

The minister reiterated his pledge to the families of the missing 239 passengers and crew members that authorities will do everything within their ability to locate the plane.

In response to a question over concerns that the funding available for the search mission might dry up, Mr Hishammuddin said "dollar and cents" did not even cross his mind.

"None of our partners have talked about dollars and cents," he said, " No one has said no to any of our requests."

Xinhua news agency earlier reported that US funding for the search mission will likely run out in April.

"As of now, we've set aside US$4 million (S$5.1 million) to aid in the search," Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren was quoted as saying on Saturday.

"Based on our current expenditures, we expect these funds will last until sometime in the beginning of April."

The hunt for MH370 has entered its 15th day. The latest lead - Chinese satellite image of a large floating object in the Indian Ocean, measuring 22.5m by 13m, is set to drive the next phase of investigation. 

Beijing will hold a press conference on the latest discovery later today, Mr Hishammuddin said.