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[SYDNEY] Giant waves and high winds have prevented any search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 for the past month with the hunt now not expected to be complete until August, authorities said Wednesday.
Australia is leading the painstaking search for MH370 in the remote Indian Ocean, but the wild weather has not allowed the three ships involved to make any progress in recent weeks.
"Recent poor weather conditions have severely impacted search operations. The last four weeks saw no search operations undertaken," the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in an update.
"It is now anticipated it may take until around August to complete the 120,000 square kilometres, but this will be influenced by weather conditions over the coming months, which may worsen."
So far 105,000 square kilometres (40,500 square miles) of the designated 120,000-square-kilometre seafloor search zone has been covered without success.
If nothing turns up once the area is fully scoured, the search will be abandoned, Australia, Malaysia and China - the countries that most of the passengers came from - have jointly said.
The fate of the passenger jet, which is presumed to have crashed at sea after disappearing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board in March 2014, remains a mystery.
So far eight pieces of debris have been found and are presumed to have drifted thousands of kilometres from the search zone far off Western Australia's coast.
Five of them have been identified as definitely or probably from the Boeing 777, with three others discovered last month still being examined.