Cyclone will rage for another 2 days in South Indian Ocean, hampering MH370 search

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Cyclone Gillian will rage for another two days in the South Indian Ocean, further hampering search and rescue operations for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Malaysian Meteorological Department national weather centre director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said Gillian, currently south-east of the Cocos Islands, had winds of up to 100 knots an hour (185.2kph) and was expected to weaken by March 26.

"In the next two days, it (Gillian) will still be of typhoon strength.

"By March 26, the strength of its maximum speeds will be less but it'll still be very strong and can do some damage.

"It will impact air operations," he told The Star on Monday.

MH370 Indian Ocean object sightings map

He added that tropical cyclones such as Gillian were capable of producing strong winds, high waves and severe turbulence, along with heavy rainfall and hailstones, all cause for concern for searching aircraft.

Mr Muhammad Helmi said cyclone Gillian was expected to "weaken considerably" by March 28 and by that time would have moved from its current area south towards Antarctica, though it would still have 70kmh winds then.

This information, he added, had been conveyed to the Department of Civil Aviation, and would be in turn relayed to individual search and rescue aircraft conducting missions in the South Indian Ocean.

He said that even without the cyclone, winds and waves in the Indian Ocean would still be stronger than that of seas around Malaysia due to its distance from the Equator.