Plane Hunt Shifts to Indian Ocean; Relatives Clash With Police in Beijing

The Chinese government, apparently not satisfied with Malaysia\'s response to the tragedy, demanded that the country provide satellite date it used to conclude that the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean.

Published: 25th March 2014 11:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2014 11:49 PM   |  A+A-


Angry relatives of Chinese passengers onboard the ill-fated Malaysian airliner clashed with police outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, accusing the government of "deception" even as the search for the wreckage of the jet has been shifted to the southern tip of the Indian Ocean after getting new data.

The Chinese government, apparently not satisfied with Malaysia's response to the tragedy, demanded that the country provide satellite date it used to conclude that the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean with 239 people, including 154 Chinese nationals on board.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, currently touring Europe, said a special envoy is being sent to Kuala Lumpur to deal with the matter of the missing plane.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Defence Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said that the latest analysis of satellite data included a final electronic signal that was still being investigated.

Even with other communications shut down, the plane sent an automatic signal called a "ping" or a "handshake" every hour to the Inmarsat satellite.

The pings did not show the jet's location, speed or heading, but an initial analysis showed the last ping came from a position along one of two vast arcs north and south from the Malaysian Peninsula.

"There is evidence of a partial handshake between the aircraft and ground station at 0019 UTC (GMT)," Hishammuddin said. "At this time, this transmission is not understood and is subject to further ongoing work."

In Beijing, grief-stricken families and friends marched to the embassy protesting the way Malaysia handled the probe and not keeping them posted on developments on the Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that went missing on March 8.

Protesters hurled water bottles at the embassy and tried to storm the building, eyewitnesses said.

Holding placards, they shouted "Malaysian government has deceived us" and "Malaysia, return our relatives".

A day after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the MH 370 had crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, Hishamuddin said, "All search efforts are now focused in the southern part of the southern corridor, in an area covering some 469,407 square nautical miles, as against the 2.24 million square nautical miles which we announced on March 18". 

He said that the search was now focused in the southern tip of the southern corridor in the Indian Ocean and the operation in the northern corridor has been called off.

"We are currently working to further narrow down the search area, gathering information from satellite surveillance, analysis of surveillance radar data, increasing air and surface assets, and increasing the number of technical and subject matter experts," Hishamuddin said.

"As a result of this new data analysis, the search and rescue operation in the northern corridor has been called off. We have also stopped the search and rescue operation in the northern part of the southern corridor, close to Indonesia," he said.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng, who held a meeting with the Malaysian Ambassador in Beijing last night, demanded specific information on how Kuala Lumpur concluded that the plane had crashed.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said its hunt for any signs of the missing jet has been suspended for today due to poor weather conditions.

Expert analysis of a handful of faint signals sent from the plane to an Inmarsat satellite led officials to conclude that the jetliner crashed in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the flight's last location was in the middle of the Indian Ocean in a remote area with no land nearby, and that the plane would have had very little fuel left and would have hit the water. "It would be extremely, extremely unlikely for anyone to have survived," he said.

There were 239 people on board including five Indian nationals and another of Indian ethnicity.

Malaysia has received a lot of flak for the way it handled the issue but most failed to see that the authorities gave out information after verifying with experts as and when they received it so as not to to be accused of hiding information, aviation sources told PTI.

Premier Najib told parliament today that the statement that he issued last night had clearly shown that Malaysia had received indications based on the satellite analysis which could be said to be conclusive that the plane had ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

The statement paves the way for one of the costliest and most difficult air crash investigations ever. Normally, an official probe can only begin once a crash site has been identified. That would give Malaysia power to coordinate and sift evidence.

"As such, what we need to do in the weeks and probably months to come is to search for fragments of the framework as well as objects related to the flight MH370 so that we can confirm without any doubt that the aircraft had disappeared in the southern Indian Ocean," Najib said.


Also Read:

US Sends Search Equipment to Australia

Malaysian Papers Turn Black in Tribute to Crashed Jet

Plane Crash Movie Shelved After Malaysian Flight Disaster

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370: Timeline of Events 



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