Sunday 28 December 2014

Debris from missing jet 'found' claim by Chinese

Tom Phillips and Malcolm Moore

Published 13/03/2014 | 02:30

Airforce personnel during a search mission for a Malaysian Airlines aircraft on board of a military surveillance airplane over the Malacca straits
Airforce personnel during a search mission for a Malaysian Airlines aircraft on board of a military surveillance airplane over the Malacca straits
Senior Lieutenant Nguyen Tri Thuc looks for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

CHINA's Xinhua News Agency says a government website has images of suspected debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

The report says the satellite images from the morning of March 9 appear to show "three suspected floating objects" of varying sizes.

The report includes coordinates of a location in the sea off the southern tip of Vietnam and east of Malaysia.

The report says the largest of the suspected pieces of debris measures about 24 by 22 metres.

The revelations came as Malaysia came under pressure, mainly from China, over its "chaotic" handling of the crisis, as it made public the last known communication from the plane.

The hunt for the missing Boeing 777 that disappeared with 239 people on board could take weeks or even months, a senior Malaysian minister admitted before the Chinese statement about their discovery.

LOCATION

"We are looking at the long haul," Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian defence and transport minister said yesterday. "I think in all cases of this nature eventually it will be found. If you look at Air France, it took weeks to find the location."

Asked if he expected the search to take weeks or even months, Mr Hussein nodded and said: "Yes, yes."

The minister was speaking after a highly charged press conference at which senior civilian and military officials conceded that they still had no idea about what had happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to Beijing.

Authorities stated that the last known communication from the plane as it left Malaysian airspace and entered Vietnamese control suggested that everything was under control on board minutes before the plane went missing.

The final words were "All right, good night", Kuala Lumpur's ambassador to Beijing said during a meeting with Chinese relatives of missing passengers.

There were several reports of sightings yesterday, including a New Zealand oil rig worker off the southern Vietnamese coastal town of Vung Tau who said he saw a burning aircraft in the sky around the time of the disappearance.

Malaysians on the west coast said they had seen a life raft that later sank. Mr Hussein said a "multinational operation", involving 42 ships, 39 aircraft, and teams and experts from 12 countries, was scouring 27,000 square nautical miles for the plane. Aviation experts would continue searching "in the east or in the west, on land or in the water".

As of yesterday those efforts were concentrated in two areas: 14,440 square nautical miles of the South China Sea, to the east of the Malaysia peninsula, and 12,425 square nautical miles in the Strait of Malacca, a congested shipping lane that lies between its western coast and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the director general of Malaysia's department of civil aviation, said that searches were being conducted further north-west, in the Andaman Sea.

The lack of clear information has provoked anger in China, where 152 of the 227 missing passengers lived. The Chinese foreign ministry said there was "too much confusion".

The 'Global Times', a nationalist Chinese newspaper, said in an editorial: "We do not know what information the Malay- sians are releasing is real and what is not. We must say that information provided by Malaysia is very chaotic.

PASSPORTS

"They released contradictory information about how many people got on board and how many people used fake passports. We worry that Kuala Lumpur may not be capable of effectively handling the information." China's online community has reacted with fury and incredulity to conflicting reports from Kuala Lumpur about whether the plane had turned back across the Malaysian peninsula.

"This is bizarre. I think they are searching the wrong area," complained one user of Weibo, China's version of Twitter.

Zhang Qihuai, the deputy chairman of the Beijing-based Aviation Law Society, said Malaysia had reacted too slowly.

"Emergency action should have been taken immediately after this sudden occurrence.

"If the Malaysians had deployed planes to search for the missing flight the minute the flight was found to be out of contact, it might have saved a lot of time and effort. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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