Air and sea search for missing flight resumes as weather in search zone improves.

26 March 2014

The Telegraph in London reports –

Air and sea search for missing flight resumes as weather in search zone improves. All the latest updates

A grieving Chinese relative of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

A relative grieves for the passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 during a protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing Photo: AFP/GETTY
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•122 objects spotted in new satellite images
• Missing plane gave off unexplained final ‘ping’
• Pilot ‘deliberately flew at extreme altitude to knock out passengers’
• Suicide mission theory of MH370 investigators
• Relatives of Chinese passengers stage protest 
• Australian plane spots two objects; HMAS Success on way to retrieve
• Revealed: the final 54 minutes of communication from MH370 
• The theories – from the plausible to the ridiculous
• Air France investigator warns of ‘colossal’ task
 In pictures: The hunt for MH370

Latest

11.20 Obects located in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370:

MALAYSIA REMOTE SENSING AGENCY

11.10 Malaysia has released maps which show the new debris field from French satellite images taken on March 23. They were passed to the Malaysia Remote Sensing Agency.

MALAYSIA REMOTE SENSING AGENCY

11.04 More from Jonathan Pearlman in Kuala Lumpur:

Malaysia has now started to defend itself – in fairly blunt terms – after coming under intense criticism for its handling of the MH370 crash.

At today’s press briefing, Hishammuddin Hussein – the acting transport minister who has become the face of the Malaysian effort to find the plane – said Malaysia deserved credit for arranging a joint search involving the world’s most sophisticated equipment from 26 countries.

Some of these countries, he noted, have not had particularly friendly relations of late.

Referring to recent squabbles and territorial claims over tiny islands in south-east Asia – including the dispute between Japan and China over the disputed Sekaku islands – he said: “In south-east Asia, where we are fighting for rocks in the middle of the sea, we are working together.”

Malaysian authorities and Malaysia Airlines have faced severe criticism over the apparent failure to release and respond to information, particularly during the early days after the plane went missing on March 8. Critics in China and elsewhere accused authorities of a cover-up and of mishandling the search.

11.03 Crew members of Chinese icebreaker Xuelong scan the sea to search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the area where Chinese aircraft spotted some suspicious objects in the southern Indian Ocean:

REX

10.51 This from our reporter Jonathan Pearlman in Kuala Lumpur:

“Malaysian authorities have just revealed that new satellite images have found “122 potential objects” ranging in size from 3 to 75 feet across an area of 154 square miles in the south Indian Ocean. Aircraft have been sent out to scour the area. The images were taken by Airbus Defence and Space in France and were about 1,589 miles from Perth in an area that tallies with previous images captured by US and Chinese

Malaysian authorities are about to release new maps which show the apparent debris field.

“It must be emphasized that we cannot tell whether the potential objects are from MH370,” said Hishammuddin Hussein, the acting transport minister. “Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation”.

10.49 He does, however, suggest that the Chinese families should stop blaming Malaysia and adopt a more “rational” response.

“Chinese families must understand that we in Malaysia have also lost loved ones. They have lost relatives all over the world. I have seen images from Australia that are very rational.”

10.42 Hishammuddin Hussein is asked about the Chinese families who are unwilling to acept their loved ones have died. “It is very difficult for me because I am a father and a brother and I know what they are going through. Until we find the debris, the very answer they want we cannot provide.”

“We are going to continue to engage, time will heal emotions that are running high.”

10.29 The news that 122 objects have been spotted by French satellite images has only recently been relayed to the Australian authorities who have inputed them into their calculations.

10.21 Hishammuddin Hussein says that “god willing” the black box will be located within the 30 day period that it emits a locator beacon.

He references the Air France crash when it took two years to find the black box. If it passes the 30 day threshold there will be a “different focus on technology”.

10.18 Asked if tensions with China during the search would affect the relationship between the countries, Hishammuddin Hussein says that there have been “unprecedented levels of cooperation” which will actually work in Malaysia’s favour.

He says that the Malaysian prime minister will travel to China in May and Barack Obama will visit Malaysia next month. The “Unprecedented cooperation for MH370 is going to be an asset in those visits”

10.10 The search area has been divided into two sectors, East and West. 12 planes wil travel to the search area, 6 in the East section, 6 in the West.

09.59 Hishammuddin Hussein says that Malaysia Airlines will be having their own press conference tomorrow.

09.54 A disaster movie about a jet that mysteriously crashes into the ocean has been put on hold because of its similarities to the missing Malaysian plane.

Arclight Films, the production company behind “Deep Water,” said that preproduction has been halted for the time being.

Managing Director Gary Hamilton said, “we’re delaying it out of respect for what’s going on.”

According to the company’s website, the film is about a flight from Sydney to Beijing that goes down in the ocean, leaving the surviving passengers and crew to fight off sharks and other dangers.

09.46 Hishammuddin Hussein says that some objects in the new satellite images appear small but one object is as big as 23 metres in length. Some objects appear to be bright, possibly indicating solid material. He adds that they cannot tell for certain that the objects are from the missing plane.

09.44 Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says that the chairman of Malindo Air has joined him. One of their planes had to turn back earlier today after one of their engines caught on fire.

09.42 The press conference is underway. Malaysian authorities say that new satellite images from France have emerged that identify 122 potential objects within a 400 square km area which could be from flight MH370. The satellite photos were taken on March 23.

09.33 Reuters reports that a U.S.-based law firm said it expects to represent families of more than half of the passengers on board the missing flight in a lawsuit against the carriers and Boeing Co , alleging the plane had crashed due to mechanical failure.

Ribbeck Law has filed a petition for discovery against Boeing and Malaysian Airlines.The focus of the case will be on Boeing, as they believe that the incident was caused by mechanical failure.

“Our theory of the case is that there was a failure of the equipment in the cockpit that may have caused a fire that rendered the crew unconscious, or perhaps because of the defects in the fuselage which had been reported before there was some loss in the cabin pressure that also made the pilot and co-pilot unconscious,” Monica Kelly, head of Global Aviation Litigation at Ribbeck Law, said

“That plane was actually a ghost plane for several hours until it ran out of fuel.”

Kelly said the conclusion was made based on experience on previous incidents, dismissing the possibilities of hijacking or pilot suicide.

The lawsuit, soon to be filed, would seek millions of dollars of compensation for each passenger and ask Boeing to repair its entire 777 fleet.

09.23 China’s special envoy to Malaysia, Zhang Yesui, has called for “unremitting efforts” over the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, state news agency Xinhua said.

Zhang, who is also China’s vice foreign minister, met Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak earlier in the day, according to Xinhua.

On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent Zhang to consult with the Malaysian government over the missing plane.

09.21 Here is a bit more from AP on the topography of the seabed which is currently being searched:

David Ferreira, an oceanographer at the University of Reading in Britain, said little is known about the area where the plane is believed to have crashed.

“We know much more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean floor in that part of the Indian Ocean,” Ferreira said.

Kerry Sieh, the director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, said the seafloor in the search area is relative flat, with dips and crevices similar to that the part of the Atlantic Ocean where the Air France wreckage was found.

He said he wouldn’t expect much current on the seafloor, and believes any large pieces of the plane would likely stay put once they have completely sunk. But recovering any part of the plane will be tough because of the sheer depth of the ocean – much of it between about 3,000-4,500 meters (10,000-15,000 feet) in the search area – and inhospitable conditions on the surface where intense winds and high swells are common.

“This is a really rough piece of ocean, which is going to be a terrific issue,” Sieh said. “I worry that people carrying out the rescue mission are going to get into trouble.”

09.12 Underwater investigation experts in the US explain how unmanned submarines will search for missing flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean:

“You want to leave no spot uncovered and nothing beats an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) like this for covering the sea floor with unprecedented accuracy,” said Dave Gallo, Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

08.53 There is a race against the clock to find Flight 370’s black boxes, whose battery-powered “pinger” could stop sending signals within two weeks. The batteries are designed to last at least a month.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the southern search operation Malaysia’s behalf, says a U.S Towed Pinger Locator has arrived in Perth along with the Bluefin-21 underwater drone. The equipment will be fitted to the Australian naval ship, the Ocean Shield, but AMSA could not say when they would be deployed according to AP.

08.45 A Royal Australia Air Force AP-3C Orion takes off from RAAF Base Pearce in Perth:

AP

08.40 This from Jonathan Pearlman about the missing plane’s unexplained final ‘ping’:

Malaysian authorities yesterday revealed that Britain’s Inmarsat had detected that the plane had a final “partial handshake” with a satellite, eight minutes after its last regular contact. Analysts said the failed handshake may indicate the plane had crashed or was in the process of crashing.

Chris McLaughlin, senior vice president of external affairs at Inmarsat, told the Telegraph today there was a final “partial ping” but it did not affect the company’s calculations about the plane’s endpoint in the Indian Ocean.

“There was a partial ping from the aircraft shortly after the last full [one],” he said.

“We are investigating but it is unlikely to be an auto-reset or failed login. It does not affect the likely outcome for the flight.”

08.33 AP reports that in Beijing, some families held out a glimmer of hope their loved ones might somehow have survived. About two-thirds of the missing are Chinese, and their relatives have lashed out at Malaysia for essentially declaring their family members dead without any physical evidence of the plane’s remains.

Many also believe that the Malaysian officials have not been transparent or swift in communicating information with them about the status of the search.

Wang Chunjiang, whose brother was on the plane, said he felt “very conflicted.”

“We want to know the truth, but we are afraid the debris of the plane should be found,” he said while waiting at a hotel near the Beijing airport for a meeting with Malaysian officials. “If they find debris, then our last hope would be dashed. We will not have even the slightest hope.”

08.27 There is increased hope that the search may be successful after fierce winds and high waves that had forced a daylong halt eased considerably.

A total of 12 planes and two ships from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are now participating in the search.

The search zone has been greatly reduced this week, but it remains huge – an area estimated at 1.6 million square kilometers (622,000 square miles), more than six times the size of the UK.

08.20 Another plane from a Malaysian airline was forced to turn back today because one of its engines caught fire.

Malindo Air said in a statement that the plane landed safely and that no one was hurt.

Malindo, which was set up one year ago, said the plane was on its way from Subang Airport near Kuala Lumpur to Terengganu on Malaysia’s east coast when the aircraft’s fire detection system was activated.

It said the cause of the fire was not known.

06.10 The Wall Street Journal is compiling profiles of all of the people onboard MH370. Moving stuff.

06.00 Xinhua tweets that there are now three Chinese ships in the target area.

05.30 CBS is running a story on the lessons from MH370 that asks how can we ensure we never lose a plane again?

04.40 Here is the latest Twitter update from AMSA:

04.00 Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, has moved a motion of condolence in parliament, while the families of four Australians on the flight watched on from the gallery.

 Based on the accumulation of evidence, the Malaysian government has declared that flight MH370 was lost in the Indian ocean and all on board have perished.

A considerable amount of debris has been sighted in the area where the flight was last recorded. Bad weather accessibility has so far prevented any of it from being recovered, but we are confident that some will be. Madam Speaker, we mourn all those 239 passengers and crew. We especially mourn the six Australian citizens and the one Australian resident who must be presumed dead, and we grieve with their families and loved ones.

Mary and Rodney Burrows from Queensland. Catherine and Robert Lawton from Queensland. Yuan Li and Naijin Gu, who were residents of Beijing. And New Zealander Paul Weeks who was a resident of Perth. Today I had the honour of meeting members of the Lawton and Burrows families who are here with us in the gallery today and will shortly be visiting the Australian maritime safety agency.

I want to assure them that Australia will be doing all it can to recover what we can from the Southern Indian Ocean, so that they can have the closure, and eventually, the peace, that comes with understanding more of what has happened.

I have pledged to Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia full Australian co-operation in the recovery and investigation operation. The crash zone is about as close to nowhere as its possible to be, but it’s closer to Australia than to anywhere else. I want to thank all the nations involved in search activities, and recovery activities. China, the United States, Japan, Korea and New Zealand, and I want to commend the professionalism of all the personnel involved.

Meanwhile, Madam Speaker, four Australian families have an ache in their heart. Nothing we say or do can take this ache away. Still, the knowledge that this nation, through his parliament, has paused to acknowledge that loss may be of some comfort in facing this terrible bereavement. May God bless you at this very sad time.

03.20 China’s Xinhua news agency reports that the Chinese ship Xuelong has reached the area where a Chinese plane spotted potential debris earlier this week.

03.00 CNN Money ponders how much Malaysia Airlines could end up paying relatives of passengers on MH370.

International and contract law provide some answers, but the true figures will likely be settled when insurance claims and lawsuits are filed by relatives of the flight’s 239 victims. Some attorneys, citing their past work on plane crashes, say the total for each passenger could vary from $400,000 to $10 million.

02.10 Here is the latest Twitter update from AMSA on the progress of the search:

01.25 The Washington Post has produced an illuminating map, outlining just how vast the search zone is. By overlaying the search areas onto a map of the US, the paper shows that “conducting a search like this is like attempting to search Texas from New York City.”

00.50 Here is more detail from Reuters on the lawsuit:

Malaysian Airlines and Boeing Co are facing a potential lawsuit over the Beijing-bound flight that disappeared more than two weeks ago with 239 people on board, according to a law firm representing passengers’ families.

A petition for discovery has been filed against Boeing Co , manufacturer of the aircraft, and Malaysian Airlines , operator of the plane, Chicago-based Ribbeck Law said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Boeing 777 vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia said on Monday that the missing jetliner had crashed into remote seas off Australia, citing satellite data analysis.

Airline officials on Monday said all on board were presumed dead.

The petition for discovery, filed in a Cook County, Illinois Circuit Court, is meant to secure evidence of possible design and manufacturing defects that may have contributed to the disaster, the law firm said.

00.20 CNN’s Richard Quest says on Twitter that the first lawsuits against Boeing and Malaysia Airlines have been served.

23.50 AMSA announces there are now four planes and 2 ships searching for debris from the plane.

23.20 The Mail Online has a story suggesting that one of the pilots flew the plane at a deliberately extreme altitude to knock out the passengers.

Shortly after the last voice communication from the cockpit of the plane on March 8 it was tracked by military radar flying between 43,000 and 45,000 feet.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, told MailOnline: ‘It was tracked flying at this altitude for 23 minutes before descending. Oxygen would have run out in 12 minutes [in a depressurised cabin], rendering the passengers unconscious.’

23.00 Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, has told the Nine Network the search for the missing airliner will not be abandoned lightly, but “is absolutely not open ended”.

He said there was a lot of debris in the area and Australia would keep searching until there was no hope of finding anything.

“We are just going to keep on looking because we owe it to people to do everything we can to resolve this riddle,” he said.

22.13 The search for wreckage of crashed Flight MH370 has resumed after the weather improved, with Chinese ships and Korean planes joining the hunt over a vast stretch of the Indian Ocean.

Gale force winds, rain and big waves prevented any sorties being flown on Tuesday but 12 aircraft will be in the air on Wednesday while Australia’s HMAS Success plans to conduct a surface sweep of an area where two objects were spotted this week.

China’s polar supply ship Xue Long was also due in the area, with other Chinese vessels on their way, as the search intensifies for the Malaysian Airlines jet that crashed into the sea after vanishing on March 8 with 239 passengers on board.

“Today’s search is split into three areas within the same proximity covering a cumulative 80,000 square kilometres,” said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the search.

“AMSA has tasked a total of 12 aircraft today to search for possible objects in the search area.”

22.00 Jonathan Pearlman in Kuala Lumpur reports the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight gave one last unexplained signal eight minutes after its final “ping”, possibly the result of the plane entering its “catastrophic phase” as it plunged into the Indian Ocean.

21.33 Our correspondent in China, Tom Phillips reports on how China’s controversial one-child policy means the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was particularly excruciating for Chinese parents – many of whom lost their only child.

21.00 Welcome to our live coverage of the search for MH370. You will find our earlier live coverage of the story here.

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