The Malay Mail Online
March 13, 2014
Kuala Lumpur, March 13 — The search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has entered its sixth day with multinational planes and ships scouring seas on both sides of Peninsular Malaysia.
Stumped for answers after a fruitless five days spent looking for the missing jetliner mainly in seas off Vietnam’s south coast, Malaysia has expanded the search area to include the Straits of Malacca and the Andaman Sea.
The search area is now so wide it spans seas from India to China, but Malaysia insists there is still hope for the missing passengers and crew, 239 in all.
Malaysian authorities reached the decision to widen the search under the unrelenting gaze of worldwide media and found themselves on the back foot for much of the time.
Perhaps it was inevitable there were some lapses and inconsistencies.
Malaysia’s air force chief rejected a local newspaper report quoting him as saying that MH370 had been spotted near Pulau Perak , an uninhabited island in the Straits of Malacca.
A day later he was back in the spotlight, this time saying that military radar had spotted a flying object, which may or may not be the missing airliner, in the narrow straits at 2.15 am Saturday.
If it was the missing airliner, it was radically off course.
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft’s last contact with air traffic control was at 1.30 am, locating the plane some 120 nautical miles off Kota Bharu.
Early reports had said the plane had been seen on radar at 2.30 am.
The varying times left some bewildered and others accusing Malaysia of incompetency.
Malaysia denies the charges vehemently.
On Thursday, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein brushed off criticism of Malaysia’s leadership in searching for the missing airliner, claiming that the perception of “confusion” was contrived.
There have been other inconsistencies too, mainly relating to passengers.
A mix up over passengers who checked-in but didn’t board the flight ran for more than a day. In the end, it was revealed that everyone who checked in had boarded the flight.
Supplying pictures of two Iranian passengers who were on the flight with stolen passports was fraught with problems for the police force. While it was easy enough to make out the faces of the two men, their legs didn’t quite match. Police were forced to deny they hadn’t doctored the pictures.
But whatever the problems, the search for the missing jetliner must go on even if Malaysia stumbles in the telling of the story.
So many questions remain unanswered.
Why didn’t flight MH370 transmit its progress and location as it should have?
Was its silence due to deliberate action or an accident?
Where has it gone?
With each passing day it becomes that much harder to hold out hope that they people on board are safe.