The investigators scanning the Indian Ocean for any sign of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 released an operational update Wednesday as authorities tried to tamp down theories that the plane was crashed on purpose. Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is leading the hunt for debris from the Boeing 777, revealed that bad weather and maintenance have continued to tie up vessels used in the search.
"Poor weather conditions have severely impacted search operations in the past week," the update read. "Fugro Discovery is on weather standby in the search area. Fugro Equator is en route to the search area. Dong Hai Jiu 101 is en route to Fremantle for resupply."
The sweep for evidence from the plane, which vanished in March 2014 with 239 people on board, was scheduled to end this summer once the vessels had checked a predetermined 120,000-square-kilometer area. But harsh winds and storms have prevented them from finishing the job.
For now, investigators are having bigger issues.
First, Ministers from Australia, China and Malaysia experienced some backlash recently after meeting and confirming their plans to stop the search once those 120,000 square kilometers are scanned. Then, a New York Magazine report claimed the pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had flown the fatal route on his simulator before MH370. And finally, multiple experts suggested the condition of a wing flaperon found last year meant the plane was being controlled by someone when it crashed into the sea.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai waded into the debate Thursday, telling people not to speculate about the plane's demise.
"There is still no evidence to confirm that Captain Zaharie deliberately flew the plane into the Indian Ocean," he told reporters, according to the Star. "Yes, he had simulated the flight path, but it is one of thousands of simulations to many parts of the world. We cannot, just based on this, confirm he did it."