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Families demand answers as search for missing jet continues

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-31

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 intensified on Sunday with 10 ships and as many aircraft scouring a swathe of the Indian Ocean west of Perth for signs of the missing jet, more than three weeks after its disappearance.

Numerous objects have been spotted in the two days since Australian authorities moved the search 1,100 km (685 miles) after new analysis of radar and satellite data concluded the Boeing 777 travelled faster and for a shorter distance after vanishing from civilian radar screens on March 8th with 239 people on board.

However, none has been confirmed as coming from Flight MH370 and time is running out to find any debris, work out a likely crash zone and recover the aircraft’s “black box” voice and data recorders before batteries pinging their location die.

“My understanding from this morning is that there has been no discrete debris associated with the flight,” Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy told reporters on Sunday.

Both a Chinese ship and an Australian navy vessel picked up objects yesterday but nothing has been linked to Flight MH370.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was hopeful a clue will emerge soon in the hunt for Flight MH370, describing the “intensifying search effort” as positive because objects “have been recovered from the ocean”.

Abbott also announced that former Australian defence chief, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, will lead a new centre in Perth to coordinate the international search effort.

Australian warship to join search

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said aircraft from China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the United States would be searching on Sunday.

“Weather in the search area is forecast to worsen today with light showers and low cloud, though search operations are expected to continue,” AMSA said in a statement.

An Australian warship with an aircraft black box detector was also set to depart Sunday to join the search.

However, it will still take three to four days for the ship, the Ocean Shield, to reach the search zone – an area roughly the size of Poland about 1,850 kilometres (1,150 miles) to the west of Australia.

The Ocean Shield will also be carrying an unmanned underwater vehicle, as well as other acoustic detection equipment.

The search, being coordinated by Australia, has involved unprecedented cooperation between more than two dozen countries and 60 aircraft and ships but has also been bedevilled by regional rivalries and an apparent reluctance to share potentially crucial information due to security concerns.

Families demand answers from Malaysia

The Malaysian government has come under strong criticism from China, home to more than 150 of the passengers, where relatives of the missing have accused the government of “delays and deception”.

Several dozen Chinese relatives of passengers on Flight MH370 arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to demand to meet top officials for more information about what happened to the airliner.

Before departing for Malaysia from Beijing, one relative said they would demand to meet the prime minister and the defence minister, who is the chief spokesman for the government.

“We have questions that we would like to ask them in person,” said Wang Chunjiang, whose younger brother, lawyer Wang Chunyong, was on Flight MH370.

“We know what we can do is insignificant, but we will do whatever we can do for our beloved ones,” said Wang.

“We want to know what could have happened to them in the six hours the plane kept flying, and if they had to endure any mental and physical pains.”

He said some relatives were hoping for a miracle. “It cannot be completely ruled out before we see the wreckage of the plane or the bodies of our loved ones.”

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-03-30

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