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Monday, March 31, 2014

Search area littered with rubbish


DAY 24 MH370 The search for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 enters its 24th day but its trail is increasingly cold in the Indian Ocean at an area some 1,850km west of Perth, Australia.

However, things are heating up in Malaysia as several families of Chinese MH370 passengers have now taken their protestcloser to Putrajaya.

The families, which began arriving from Beijing yesterday, have demanded the Malaysian government to apologise over what they call a premature declaration that the ill-fated flight had "ended' in the Indian Ocean.

MAS insists the conclusion is based on rational deduction as satellite analysis showed the aircraft was lost in the Indian Ocean with no land mass nearby.

Follow us as we bring the latest updates and coverage for the search of Flight MH370:

3.46pm: Timor-Leste prime minister today commends the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) over their handling of the missing MAS flight crisis, Bernama reports.

"Malaysia is to be applauded for leading the multi-national search effort which has been an outstanding example of leadership and co-operation among the international communities," says Xanana Gusmao.

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak after a bilateral meeting in Putrajaya, Gusmao also expresses his condolences to the families of the aircraft passengers and crew over their loss.

Search area littered with rubbish

2.35pm: While the new search area 1,100km north east of the old site has better weather, operations are being hampered by higher volume of ocean trash that may be mistaken for wreckage.

Reuters reports the search zone is an area of the Indian Ocean where currents drag in all manner of flotsam and rubbish.

"I would say the search area is located just outside of what we call the garbage patches," says Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales.

"There is much more debris there than in the Southern (Indian) Ocean. Debris from Western Australia that ends up in the garbage patches will have to move through the search area," she adds.

China urges angry citizens to be rational

1.50pm: China's state media urges rationality among its citizens after the outburst of anger following Malaysia's announcement that Flight MH370 has "ended" in the Indian Ocean, reports AFP.

A commentary in China Daily under the headline 'Treat MH370 tragedy rationally' reads: "It is certain that flight MH370 crashed in the Indian Ocean and no one on board survived."

"We should not let anger prevail over facts and rationality... We need to comply with the fundamental norms of a civilised society and need to show the demeanour of a great power."

The author, Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the commerce ministry institute, says irrational behaviour will not help matters and families should prepare to make funeral arrangements.

"Although the Malaysian government's handling of the crisis has been quite clumsy, we need to understand this is perhaps the most bizarre incident in Asian civil aviation history.

It is understandable that as a developing country, the Malaysian government felt completely at a loss," he adds.

He adds they should not accuse Malaysia of covering up information without hard evidence.

Pilot's daughter will not forgive British tabloid

12.45pm: Daughter of the MH370 pilot, Aishah Zaharie haslashed out at British tabloid Daily Mail for reports putting her father in bad light.

"Dear Daily Mail, you should consider making movies since you are so good at making up stories and scripts out of thin air...

"May god have mercy on your souls. You can bet you're a** I will not forgive you," she writes in a Facebook posting yesterday.

The remarks come after Daily Mail on March 29 quoted a source "close to the family", claiming Aishah had supposedly said her father was "disturbed and lost in his own world" prior to his ill-fated flight.

Kin: We know who are the good guys and the bad

12.45pm: The Chinese families have left Wisma Fo Guang Shan after prayers and speaking to the press.

Jiang Hui, one of the relatives of the Chinese passengers, thanks the Chinese and all of the governments of the countries participating in the SAR operations.

Speaking on behalf of the families, he also thanks the Malaysians who have prayed for them, the media who have voiced on their behalf and the MCA crisis relief squad for assisting them in their stay here.

"The Chinese community is a friendly one. We can tell the good from the bad.

"We will not forgive those who had killed our loved ones, those who are hiding the truth and those who are delaying the SAR operations," he says.

10.30am: The families from Beijing arrive at Wisma Fo Guang Shan to pray for their missing.

About 40 arrive with police escort, and they wear white T-shirts that say 'Pray for MH370, please come home as soon as possible' in Chinese.

The prayer session is expected to take an hour.

The press are told to wait at the lobby for a photo session after the prayers and interviews are expected after that.

Aussie PM: Najib right about MH370 ending in ocean

10.24am: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott defends his Malaysian counterpart Najib Abdul Razak over the latter's conclusion that Flight MH370 has "ended" in the Indian Ocean amid queries from Chinese families.

"The accumulation of evidence is that the aircraft has been lost and it has been lost somewhere in the south of the Indian Ocean.

"That's the absolutely overwhelming wave of evidence and I think that Prime Minister Najib Razak was perfectly entitled to come to that conclusion, and I think once that conclusion had been arrived at, it was his duty to make that conclusion public," UK-based The Telegraph quoted Abbot saying.

The Chinese are angry that Najib had made the announcement based on satellite calculations, without first finding the wreckage.

Chinese families pray for passengers

10.20am: MH370 Chinese next-of-kin, who arrived Malaysia yesterday to seek explanation from the Malaysian government, are scheduled for prayers at Wisma Fo Guang Shan in Petaling Jaya.

The Buddhist temple's administrator allows media to wait inside while the families arrive, but are asked not to interview them until prayers are complete.

Some media personnel say they will join in the prayer session to observe the proceedings.

Aussie PM: We're in for a long search

9.12am: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott soothes fears that the search operation will give up on finding Flight MH370 after PM Najib Razak earlier declared the plane had "ended" in the Indian Ocean.

"I'm certainly not putting a time limit on it.

“We can keep searching for quite some time to come, and we will keep searching for quite some time to come.

"The intensity of our search and the magnitude of operations is increasing, not decreasing,” Reuters quotes him saying.

Abbott is at the Royal Australian Air Force Base Pearce in Perth, the launchpad of the aerial search operations.

Time running out on black box

6am: The search operation in the Indian Ocean begins, says the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa).

A total of 10 aircraft and 10 ships from Australia, Malaysia, US, China, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea will be involved in the search today.

It expects low clouds and rain throughout the day in some parts of the search area.

The black box detector, borrowed from the US, will also be in action today after being fitted onto the ADV Ocean Shield which will depart from Perth.

However, US Navy captain Mark Matthews who will be leading the search using the black box detector yesterday expresses pessimism it will yield any results until the search area can be further narrowed.

"Right now, the search area is basically the size of the Indian Ocean, which takes an untenable amount of time to search." he says in Sydney Morning Herald.

The black box is nearing the end of its 30-day battery life, so the detector will only be useful for only a few more days.

Background:

The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200ER aircraft went missing not long after taking off from KL International Airport in the early hours of March 8, with 12 crew members and 227 passengers.
   
Authorities have determined the plane intentionally made a turn-back and altered its course shortly after cutting communications with tower controllers for unknown reasons.
   
Its whereabouts is now narrowed to the southern Indian Ocean after employing "new analysis" methods to deduce the location based on six pings the aircraft sent out to British satellite communications provider Inmarsat's satellite.
 

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