Malaysia says search to shift to smaller area

2014-03-25 17:46
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Kuala Lumpur - China demanded Tuesday that Malaysia turn over the satellite data used to conclude that a Malaysia Airlines jetliner had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 on board.

Officials sharply narrowed the search area as a result of that assessment, but the zone remains as large as Texas and Oklahoma combined (roughly the size of South Africa).

Australia said improved weather would allow the hunt for the plane to resume on Wednesday after gale-force winds and heavy rain forced a daylong delay. Searchers face a daunting task of combing a vast expanse of choppy seas for suspected remnants of the aircraft sighted earlier.

"We're not searching for a needle in a haystack - we're still trying to define where the haystack is," Australia's deputy defence chief, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, told reporters at a military base in Perth as idled planes stood behind him.

Late on Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that a new analysis of satellite data confirmed the plane had crashed in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.

That announcement unleashed a storm of sorrow and anger among the families of the plane's passengers and crew - two-thirds of them Chinese.

Angry relatives

Family members of the passengers have complained bitterly about a lack of reliable information and some say they are not being told the whole truth.

Nearly 100 relatives and their supporters marched on Tuesday to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, where they threw plastic water bottles, tried to rush the gate and chanted, "Liars!"

Many wore white T-shirts that read "Let's pray for MH370" as they held banners and shouted, "Tell the truth! Return our relatives!"

There was a heavy police presence at the embassy. Police briefly scuffled with a group of relatives who tried to approach journalists.

In a clear statement of support for the families, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a special envoy, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, to Kuala Lumpur to deal with the case.

Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng told Malaysia's ambassador that China wanted to know exactly what led Najib to announce that the plane had been lost, a statement on the ministry's website said.

Investigators and the Malaysian government have been able to say little with certainty about Flight 370's fate since it disappeared on 8 March shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.

Left unanswered are many troubling questions about why it was so far off course. Experts piecing together radar and satellite data believe the plane back-tracked over Malaysia and then travelled in the opposite direction to the Indian Ocean.

Investigators will be looking at various possibilities including mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.

"We do not know why. We do not know how. We do not know how the terrible tragedy happened," Malaysia Airlines' chief executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, told reporters.

The airline's chairperson, Mohammed Nor Mohammed Yusof, said on Tuesday that it may take time for further answers to become clear.

"This has been an unprecedented event requiring an unprecedented response," he said. "The investigation still underway may yet prove to be even longer and more complex than it has been since March 8th."

'No doubt that the plane has crashed'

He added that even though no wreckage has been found, there was no doubt the plane had crashed.

"This by the evidence given to us, and by rational deduction, we could only arrive at that conclusion: That is, for Malaysia Airlines to declare that it has lost its plane, and by extension, the people in the plane," he said.

The conclusions were based on an analysis of the brief signals the plane sent every hour to a satellite belonging to Inmarsat, a British company, even after other communication systems on the jetliner shut down for unknown reasons.

The latest satellite information does not provide an exact location but just a rough estimate of where the jet crashed into the sea.

Hishammuddin said the data is still being analysed "to attempt to determine the final position of the aircraft" and that an international working group of satellite and aircraft performance experts had been set up. He did not give more details.

The search area has been reduced as a result of the new data to 1.6 million square kilometres, a massive expanse of ocean, but just 20% of the area that was previously being searched, he said.

There had been two corridors - based on rough satellite data - for the search. Hishammuddin said operations had been halted in the northern corridor that swept up from Malaysia toward Central Asia, as well as in the northern section of the southern corridor that arches down from Malaysia toward Antarctica.

Search delayed

Although there have been an increasing number of apparent leads, there has been no confirmed identification of any debris.

Australian and Chinese search planes spotted floating objects in an area 2 500km southwest of Perth on Monday, but none was retrieved. Now, with the 24-hour delay in the search, those objects and other possible debris from the plane could drift to an even wider area.

"A visual search will resume tomorrow when the weather is expected to improve after gale-force winds and heavy swells resulted in the suspension of the search operation on Tuesday," said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is overseeing the search out of Perth, Australia.

There is a race against the clock to find any trace of the plane that could lead searchers to the black boxes, whose battery-powered "pinger" could stop sending signals within two weeks. The batteries are designed to last at least a month.

Several countries have begun moving specialised equipment into the area to prepare for a search for the plane and its black boxes, the common name for the cockpit voice and data recorders, needed to help determine what happened to the jetliner.

Hishammuddin said a US Navy deep-sea black box locator was on its way to Australia and would be installed on an Australian navy support vessel, the Ocean Shield, which is expected to arrive in several days. It is not expected to reach the search area until 5 April.

There are 26 countries involved in the search, and Hishammudin said the problems now facing the hunt to recover Flight 370 are not diplomatic "but technical and logistical".

The US Navy has also sent an unmanned underwater vehicle to Perth that could be used if debris is located, said Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had spoken to Najib to offer help with the ongoing search and investigation.

"What up until now has been a search, moves into a recovery and investigation phase," Abbott said. "I have offered Malaysia, as the country legally responsible for this, every assistance and cooperation from Australia."

The search for the wreckage and the plane's recorders could take years because the ocean is up to 7 000m deep in some parts. It took two years to find the black box from an Air France jet that went down in the Atlantic Ocean on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in 2009, and searchers knew within days where the crash site was.

"We've got to get lucky," said John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board. "It's a race to get to the area in time to catch the black box pinger while it's still working."

- AP
Read more on:    malaysia  |  malaysia airlines flight mh370
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

The route of the 2015 Absa Cape Epic has been announced and it promises to be as challenging as ever!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

4 exercise excuses and how to beat them
Watch: Insane road bike skills!
The most extreme journey ever?
Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Cost Controller

Cape Town
Platinum HR Consultants
R7 500 - R8 000 Per Month

PHP Developer

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R40 000 Per Month

Restaurant Manager

Western Cape
SET Recruitment Consultants
R20 000 - R30 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency to focus too intently on outer appearance and beauty which hides who you really are. You are being challenged...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.