TODAY   |  March 25, 2014

Search for Flight 370 suspended in bad weather

Severe weather has forced a delay in the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as Chinese officials demand to see the satellite data used to conclude the plane went down in the Indian Ocean. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> and we move now to the tragedy of malaysia air flight 370. the search is now suspended due to bad weather in the indian ocean . and this morning, chinese officials are demanding to see that satellite data that was used to conclude the plane went down in the indian ocean . tom costello has covered this investigation from the start. tom, good morning.

>> good morning. the malaysians this morning said one last faint attempt at a satellite ping convinced them this plane had, indeed, flown all the way deep into the indian ocean . still, no confirmed debris found. if this is a needle in a hay stack, the defense minister said today, they don't even yet know where the haystack is.

>> reporter: today in the waters off australia, the international search for the remains is on hold. the weather too extreme for aircraft or ships.

>> we are concerned about the weather also over the next couple of days. so it may be some time before we can get aircraft back into the search.

>> reporter: this morning, hundreds of chinese marched on a malaysian embassy in beijing not satisfied with the answers they've been given. the ceo defended notifying some family members of flight 370's fate by text message.

>> -- that the incredibly short amount of time available to us, the families heard the tragic news before the world did.

>> for the family of american phillip wood, finally after more than two weeks, an answer.

>> it's not the answer we wanted. but it's an answer. and it does help to know that we know something.

>> reporter: the challenge now, finding the wreckage before winter moves in. on the water, several chinese ships joined the royal australian ship "success" on monday. while in the air, civilian aircraft, chinese military planes, subhunters from japan, new zealand, and australia equipped with infrared sensors, and subhunters all working the zone. the u.s. is also sending an unmanned mini sub and a pinger locater to listen for the plane's black boxes . but they must shrink the search zone into something more manageable.

>> reporter: the pinger locater can zero in on an airliner's black box up to 25,000 feet below the surface. but it doesn't have a very wide range. it needs a relatively specific search area to be effective.

>> reporter: to do that, crews will have to estimate how far any floating debris might have drifted from the wreckage. and that area of the indian ocean is extremely volatile.

>> the winds become very strong and sweep up the water and create these giant waves. among the largest waves in the world in this part of the ocean.

>> we talked to that oceanographer in sidney yesterday. we talked about listening for the pinger, which is on the end of the black box . the trouble is, you may need to be on top of the black box for the sonars to detect it because of the thermal layers in the ocean and the currents and conditions. back to you, savannah.

>> and only about 30 days total it makes that sound.