Two-week search for Malaysian jet finds only frustration and suspicion

KUALA LUMPUR Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:49pm EDT

1 of 11. A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion returns from a search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean, at RAAF Base Pearce, north of Perth March 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Two weeks after a Malaysia Airlines airliner went missing with 239 people on board, officials are bracing for the "long haul" as searches by more than two dozen countries turn up little but frustration and fresh questions.

The international team hunting Flight MH370 in the remote southern Indian Ocean yielded no results on Friday, and Australia's deputy prime minister said suspected debris there may have sunk.

Aircraft and ships have renewed the search in the Andaman Sea between India and Thailand, going over areas that have already been exhaustively swept to find some clue to unlock one of the biggest mysteries in modern aviation.

Malaysian officials have been realistic about their ability to lead the operation with a global dynamic that some have said is beyond the country's technical capabilities and expertise.

"This continues to be a multinational effort coordinated by Malaysia, involving dozens of countries from around the world," Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a briefing on Friday.

Malaysia welcomed "all assistance to continue to follow all credible leads", said Hishammuddin, who is also acting transport minister.

He said searchers were facing the "long haul" but were conscious that the clock was ticking. The plane's "black box" voice and data recorder only transmits an electronic signal for about 30 days before its battery dies, after which it will be far more difficult to locate.

Investigators suspect the Boeing 777, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing shortly after midnight on March 8, was deliberately diverted thousands of miles from its scheduled path. They say they are focusing on hijacking or sabotage but have not ruled out technical problems.

The search itself has strained ties between China and Malaysia, with Beijing repeatedly leaning on the Southeast Asian nation to step up its hunt and do a better job at looking after the relatives of the Chinese passengers.

Hishammuddin has rejected complaints that the country has botched search efforts or refused to share vital information with other governments.

For families of the passengers, the process has proved to be an emotionally wrenching battle to elicit information, their angst fuelled by a steady stream of speculation and false leads.

In a Beijing hotel where the bulk of Chinese families have been awaiting information, the deadlock prompted rage over perceived Malaysian incompetence.

For a handful of Chinese families who chose to be flown to Kuala Lumpur to be closer to the heart of search operations, the flow of information has been no more fluid.

On Wednesday, grief erupted into anger when several family members unfurled a protest banner in front of a throng of journalists, demanding the truth from the Malaysian government. The ruckus prompted police to escort the relatives, including a distraught mother, away from the briefing room.

By Friday, the Chinese families who had been staying at a resort south of Kuala Lumpur had to decamp to another hotel as they were displaced by customers for the upcoming Malaysian Formula One grand prix.

"Tonight all the government could give us was old information. But of course we, the families, want to hear new updates," Malaysian Hamid Ramlat, the father of a passenger, told reporters after emerging from a briefing on Thursday night.

Some experts have argued that the reluctance to share sensitive radar data and capabilities in a region fraught with suspicion amid China's military rise and territorial disputes may have hampered the search.

Two people familiar with the investigation said the search had been slowed in some cases by delays over the paperwork needed to allow foreign maritime surveillance aircraft into territorial waters without a formal diplomatic request.

(Additional reporting by Ruairidh Villar, Tim Hepher, Niki Koswanage and Siva Govindasamy; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (46)
Was it a mini-bast from the Sun that nobody noticed and wrecked much of the aircraft’s delicate technology, meaning the direction it flew was uncontrollable and finally crashed into the water in a place we’ll never know about?
Meanwhile, 20 months ago, our planet came within a week of never again watching a jet airliner scouring the atmosphere:
According to a major scientific magazine, a massive ejection of material from the sun initially traveling at over 7 million miles per hour that narrowly missed Earth last year is an event solar scientists hope will open the eyes of policymakers regarding the impacts and mitigation of severe space weather, says a University of Colorado Boulder professor.

The coronal mass ejection, or CME, event was likely more powerful than the famous Carrington storm of 1859, when the sun blasted Earth’s atmosphere hard enough twice to light up the sky from the North Pole to Central America and allowed New Englanders to read their newspapers at night by aurora light, said CU-Boulder Professor Daniel Baker. Had it hit Earth, the July 2012 event likely would have created a technological disaster by short-circuiting satellites, power grids, ground communication equipment and even threatening the health of astronauts and aircraft crews, he said.

CMEs are part of solar storms and can send billions of tons of solar particles in the form of gas bubbles and magnetic fields off the sun’s surface and into space. The storm events essentially peel Earth’s magnetic field like an onion, allowing energetic solar wind particles to stream down the field lines to hit the atmosphere over the poles.

Fortunately, the 2012 solar explosion occurred on the far side of the rotating sun just a week after that area was pointed toward Earth, said Baker, a solar scientist and the director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. But NASA’s STEREO-A, satellite that was flying ahead of the Earth as the planet orbited the sun, captured the event, including the intensity of the solar wind, the interplanetary magnetic field and a rain of solar energetic particles into space.

- See more at: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/12/09/cu-boulder-scientist-2012-solar-storm-points-need-society-prepare#sthash.

Mar 20, 2014 11:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Was it a mini-bast from the Sun that nobody noticed and wrecked much of the aircraft’s delicate technology, meaning the direction it flew was uncontrollable and finally crashed into the water in a place we’ll never know about?
Meanwhile, 20 months ago, our planet came within a week of never again watching a jet airliner scouring the atmosphere:
According to a major scientific magazine, a massive ejection of material from the sun initially traveling at over 7 million miles per hour that narrowly missed Earth last year is an event solar scientists hope will open the eyes of policymakers regarding the impacts and mitigation of severe space weather, says a University of Colorado Boulder professor.

The coronal mass ejection, or CME, event was likely more powerful than the famous Carrington storm of 1859, when the sun blasted Earth’s atmosphere hard enough twice to light up the sky from the North Pole to Central America and allowed New Englanders to read their newspapers at night by aurora light, said CU-Boulder Professor Daniel Baker. Had it hit Earth, the July 2012 event likely would have created a technological disaster by short-circuiting satellites, power grids, ground communication equipment and even threatening the health of astronauts and aircraft crews, he said.

CMEs are part of solar storms and can send billions of tons of solar particles in the form of gas bubbles and magnetic fields off the sun’s surface and into space. The storm events essentially peel Earth’s magnetic field like an onion, allowing energetic solar wind particles to stream down the field lines to hit the atmosphere over the poles.

Fortunately, the 2012 solar explosion occurred on the far side of the rotating sun just a week after that area was pointed toward Earth, said Baker, a solar scientist and the director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. But NASA’s STEREO-A, satellite that was flying ahead of the Earth as the planet orbited the sun, captured the event, including the intensity of the solar wind, the interplanetary magnetic field and a rain of solar energetic particles into space.

- See more at: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/12/09/cu-boulder-scientist-2012-solar-storm-points-need-society-prepare#sthash.

Mar 20, 2014 11:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
afoose wrote:
…………of course, that CME occurred in 2012.

Mar 21, 2014 1:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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