Bad weather halts missing jet search

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 25, 2014 in Warren Fyfe Site

Relatives grieve for MH370 victims

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John Sudworth: Relatives’ grief for MH370 victims

Australian officials say the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has been suspended because of bad weather.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said high winds and rain meant planes could not fly safely.

Malaysian PM Najib Razak says satellite data showed the plane ended its journey in remote seas west of Australia.

Relatives of those on board have voiced grief and anger, while China has demanded to see the satellite data on which that conclusion was based.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March as if flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was carrying a total of 239 people, including 153 Chinese nationals.

A multinational search effort has focussed on seas some 2,500km (1,500 miles) to the southwest of the Australian city of Perth.

But in a news conference late on Monday, the Malaysian leader said it had to be concluded “with deep sadness and regret” that according to new data “flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.

In Malaysia, newspapers ran black or darkened front pages in tribute to those now believed to have died.

In Beijing, relatives of passengers on board the plane released a statement accusing the Malaysian government of trying to “delay, distort and hide the truth”.

Dozens of them then left their Beijing hotel on a protest bound for the Malaysian embassy, carrying banners asking Kuala Lumpur to be truthful with the relatives.

‘Detailed evidence’

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

Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 used in search for flight MH370 at Perth International Airport. 25 March 2014China has military aircraft based at Perth to help with the search

Distraught relative in Beijing. 24 March 2014In Beijing, relatives of the missing broke down after hearing the Malaysian prime minister

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

In its statement, Amsa said it had undertaken a risk assessment “and determined that the current weather conditions would make any air and sea search activities hazardous and pose a risk to crew”.

“Therefore, Amsa has suspended all sea and air search operations for today due to these weather conditions,” it said.

Search operations should resume on Wednesday if weather conditions permit, Amsa added.

China, meanwhile, has asked Malaysia to hand over the data that led it to conclude the plane had flown into the sea.

“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,” Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng said, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

“The search and rescue work cannot stop now. We demand the Malaysian side continue to finish all the work including search and rescue,” he added.

Malaysian prime minister makes announcement 24/03/2014

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Malaysia’s PM made a brief statement

Mr Najib, in a sombre late-night news conference in Kuala Lumpur, 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).

The firms had “concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean”, Mr Najib said.

“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

‘Reasonable doubt’

There were distressing scenes at a Beijing hotel where relatives of the missing watched Mr Najib’s announcement on TV. Some, overcome with grief, were taken away on stretchers by medical teams.

The BBC saw a text message sent to families by Malaysia Airlines saying it had to be assumed “beyond reasonable doubt” that the plane was lost and there were no survivors.

The airline said it had informed most families in advance of the prime minister’s statement in person and by telephone, and that text messages “were used only as an additional means of communicating with the families”.

Tom Wood, the brother of missing US passenger Philip Wood, told the BBC he would still like to see more proof.

“People are using the terms ‘we are absolutely certain that the plane crashed’ and yet when you go to ask questions they don’t have any wreckage,” he said. “How can you 100% certain if you don’t have anything recovered?”

Inmarsat had already said it received automated “pings” from the plane over its satellite network after the aircraft ceased radio and radar contact.

On Monday, Mr Najib said Inmarsat had been able to shed further light on the plane’s flight path by performing further calculations “using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort”.

According to Inmarsat, this involved a totally new way of modelling, which was why it took time.

BBC Transport correspondent Richard Westcott says that as far as the engineers could tell, the plane was flying at a cruising height above 30,000ft but its final position could not be pinpointed more clearly.

The reasons why the flight deviated so far off course remain a mystery.

Map of search zone for flight MH370

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26726427#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

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