Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Families Demand Answers About Malaysian Missing Flight

25 March 2014 Last updated at 14:09 ET

Malaysia Airlines MH370: Relatives in Beijing scuffles

Angry relatives of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines plane have clashed with police outside Malaysia's embassy in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

It came after Malaysian PM Najib Razak said a new analysis of satellite data showed the plane had ended its journey in remote seas south-west of Australia.

China has asked to see the data on which Malaysia's conclusion was based.
The search for missing flight MH370 has been suspended because of bad weather.

The plane disappeared on 8 March as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, including 153 Chinese nationals.

In Beijing, relatives of the passengers released a statement accusing the Malaysian government of trying to "delay, distort and hide the truth".

Dozens then left their Beijing hotel on a protest bound for the Malaysian embassy. Police stopped their buses from leaving, so they got off and walked to the diplomatic mission.

Scuffles broke out as protesters threw water bottles and tried to storm the building, demanding to meet the ambassador.

In a BBC interview, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya defended his company against criticism from the families.

"I think it's unfair," he said. "I think we've done all we can within our means to help them."
Final signal

The families appear to be becoming more critical of the Chinese authorities themselves, the BBC's Celia Hatton reports from Beijing.

While some defended the authorities, others denounced the Chinese government as "corrupt".

Meanwhile acting Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the latest analysis of satellite data showed a final automatic signal - known as a "handshake" or "ping" - that was still being investigated.

"There is evidence of a partial handshake between the aircraft and ground station at 0019 UTC (GMT)," he told a news conference on Tuesday. "At this time, this transmission is not understood and is subject to further ongoing work."

If confirmed, this signal would have been sent more than seven hours after contact with air traffic control was lost, and eight minutes after the last confirmed handshake.

A multinational search effort has focused on seas some 2,500km (1,500 miles) to the south-west of the Australian city of Perth.

The transport minister said that as a result of the latest analysis, the area of search had been narrowed from 2.24m sq nautical miles to 469,407 sq nautical miles.

Operations in the northern corridor - one of two large areas where the plane might have ended its journey - had been completely called off to concentrate on the southern part of the southern corridor in the Indian Ocean, he added.

The Malaysian PM said on Monday it had to be concluded "with deep sadness and regret" that "flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean".

Mr Najib said the conclusion the plane was lost was based on new satellite analysis by British firm Inmarsat and information from the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

But Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng issued a statement saying: "We demand the Malaysian side state the detailed evidence that leads them to this judgement, as well as supply all the relevant information and evidence about the satellite data analysis.

"The search and rescue work cannot stop now. We demand the Malaysian side continue to finish all the work including search and rescue."

Malaysia Airlines has said it will make arrangements to fly relatives of those on board MH370 to Australia.

'Hazardous' search

Planes from several nations, supported by an Australian warship, have been scouring waters far off Perth for signs of the missing plane, in a search co-ordinated by Australia.

There have been several sightings of debris, but none has yet been confirmed as being linked to the plane.

In a statement announcing the suspension of search operations on Tuesday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said it had "determined that the current weather conditions would make any air-and-sea search activities hazardous and pose a risk to crew".

Australia's Defence Minister David Johnston said search efforts were unlikely to start again for "at least another 24 hours".

He described the search as a "massive logistical exercise" in an "extremely remote" part of the world.

No comments: