A search of unprecedented scale involving 26 countries is under way to find clues about the fate of missing Malaysia airline plane MH370.
The search now covers an area stretching from the shores of the Caspian Sea in the north to deep in the southern Indian Ocean.
“We are deeply saddened this morning on the news on MH 370. Malaysian Airlines confirms that this flight lost contact with Subang Air traffic control at 2.40am. Flight MH 370 was operated on a boeing 777-200 aircraft. It departed Kuala lumpur bound for Beijing, the aircraft was scheduled to land at Beijing international airport at 6.30am Beijing local time. The flight was carrying a total of 239 passengers and crew comprising of 227 passengers including 2 infants and 12 crew members.”
This was the initial response from Malaysian Airlines CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and one of the few concrete statements into fate of the Malaysia airline flight to Beijing.
Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein said that an investigation initially being carried out with the help of search and rescue efforts from 9 countries has now expanded to involve 26 countries.
“The search and rescue operations continues with the multinational effort, one that’s coordinated by Malaysia. Malaysian officials are requesting support from these countries as well as others. This support includes general satellite data, radar playback, both primary and secondary. Provisions for ground sea and aerial search and assets as appropriate.”
It is now nearing two weeks into the investigation. The disappearance of a modern airliner for so long, with no wreckage found, is an unprecedented event. A pilot from Japan, Yasuhiro Kondo explained.
“In this operation there are very few evidence so far, we are trying to find some parts of the aircraft and oil spills and oil stream in the sea, this is the kind of operation we are now doing. Communication after something is found is very important. Airplane accident in general is very few however particularly in this case the volume of information is very limited. In normal case if one week has passed since accident, something must come out but in this event very few information has come out so this is a kind of rare case I believe.”
As the search continues the mystery over the disappearance the flight has deepened with satellite data emerging to suggest the plane flew on for hours after it was reported missing.
Some initial theories suggested that the aircraft could have suffered a disastrous mid-air decompression, but Malaysian authorities say they are now almost entirely focused on the actions of the crew.
Evidence revealed by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak suggested the jet was deliberately diverted by someone on board about an hour after takeoff.
“Based on new satellite communication, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the aircraft communication addressing and reporting data was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of peninsula Malaysia. Shortly afterwards near the border between Malaysia and Vietnamese air traffic control the aircrafts transponder was switched off. From this point onward the royal Malaysian air force primary data showed that an aircraft which was believed but not confirmed to be MH370 did indeed turn back, it then flew in a western direction back over peninsula Malaysia before turning north west. Up until the point it left military primary radar coverage these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.”
The 12 crew members were all Malaysian, led by pilots Captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah, 53 and 27-year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.
Police have searched their homes and a flight simulator has been taken from the captain's home and reassembled for examination at police headquarters. “Yesterday officers from the royal Malaysian police visited the home of the pilot, we spoke to family members of the pilot and experts are examining the pilots flight simulator. The police also visited the home of the co-pilot, according to Malaysian airlines the pilot and co-pilot did not ask to fly together on MH 370,” Hishammudin says.
Through the course of the search and rescue operations Malaysia has been criticized by internationally for being inconsistent and creating confusion.
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says the Prime Minister has handled the case terribly. “Datuk Seri Najib had better wake up from this slumber and the state of denial that everything is alright. You are committing blunders; here you are talking about lives you are talking about the national image. It is damning to the country’s image, first the incompetence, Vietnam although they have not officially withdrawn but they have said that you are hiding facts from us, you’re not telling us, you’re not responding. It takes six hours before we can get an answer to a simple question.”
The government says the media and the public have been fuelling the confusing by reporting on rumors and conspiracy theories. And the Malaysia government has defended their handing of the investigation.
“Our position remains that this issue is above politics. I urge all Malaysians to put our differences aside and unite during this difficult time as we focus in finding the aircraft and the 239 people onboard. The search for MH 370 remains our top priority.”
People of all Religious and races as been coming together in Malaysia to leave messages of hope and hold mass prayers.
For the families of the missing every day prolongs the anguish.