MH370 Live Report: 'Tragic news' was conveyed to families wherever humanly possible, says MAS

 DAY 19:

[8.40AM]: The hunt for wreckage of flight MH370 resumes after the weather gradually improves, with China's polar supply ship Xue Long and and Korean planes joining the search covering a vast stretch of the Indian Ocean, off western Australia. Gale force winds, rain and choppy waves prevented any sorties being flown yesterday but 12 aircraft to be on air today. Story here.

- In another development, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the recovery of MH370 and its black box is going to be a Herculean task as geologists believe the debris from the aircraft could be lying above a giant undersea chain of volcanoes whose complex terrain has barely been charted. Read here.

DAY 18:

[6:20pm]: Highlights from this evening’s press conference:

- Search operations in northern corridor and area near Indonesia called off. Current search area is 469,407 sq nautical miles from the initial 2.24 million sq nautical miles.
- MAS will take the lead in communicating with families.
-The aircraft wreckage, if found, may be brought to Australian soil for further investigation.
- Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said new analysis was convincing enough for the UK’s AAIB to brief PM Najib Razak that the plane’s last position was in the southern Indian ocean. The message was then conveyed to the families and announced to the public.
- IGP says investigation will continue on the four areas: sabotage, hijacking and psychological and personal problems.
- The US Navy’s Towed Pinger Locator - which can detect the aircraft’s black box - is en route to Perth.
- High level team from Malaysia will leave to Beijing today. Lack of details yesterday caused speculations that Malaysia was not revealing information. Team to address all questions from family members.
- Malaysian air force is conducting its own inquiry into the incident and Transport Ministry is looking at members to form its own inquiry board.
Read the full statement.

[4pm]: Angry relatives of Chinese passengers scuffled with security personnel outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, demanding answers. Full story.

 DAY 18:

[1.15pm]: Highlights from the press conference by Malaysia Airlines:
- Motivation last night was to deliver the ‘tragic news’ to the families before the world heard it. Message was conveyed to the families ‘wherever humanly possible’ and SMS was used as a last report. Airline wanted to make sure the news came from them and not the media.
- MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya says Australian authorities would give visas to families who wish to go to Australia only when ‘evidence has been established’. MAS will then make arrangements to fly them to the site.
- MAS will continue to support nearly 1000 family members and have trained an additional 40 caregivers to attend to their needs.
- Additional payment will be made to families on top of the US$5,000 that was given in initial financial assistance.
- MAS chairman Md Nor Yusof denied claims that it had ‘isolated’ family members, saying they were given places that would allow them comfort, privacy and access to caregivers. “We do not know why, we do not know how this terrible tragedy happened but as the MAS family, we are all praying for the passengers and crew of MH370.”
- On whether MAS had sent high ranking representatives to meet with families, Md Nor said: “That has been done all the time. We just do not display our names when we go”.

[12pm]: Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed the Parliament called on members of the government and the Opposition not to politicise the issue of the missing plane.
" This is the time to show our solidarity with the families of those onboard. I plead to the government and the Opposition that in a crisis like this we have to show our sympathy to all parties involved. We have to show our maturity, love for the country and sensitivity to the families who are going through a difficult time. The government will do everything that we have to do with a full sense of duty."

- The announcement was made last night to dispel the perception that Malaysia was withholding information.

- Suggestions to mourn the loss of the crew and passengers include flying the national flag at half-mast, but Najib said it should be done only after wreckage is found.

- Australian PM Tony Abbot informed Najib this morning that cooperation from Australia will continue until traces of the aircraft is found. Although the conditions in the southern Indian ocean are challenging, Malaysia will continue search operations as a commitment to the families of all those onboard MH370.

[10.45am]: Bad weather and rough seas forced the suspension of the search for any wreckage of a missing Malaysian jetliner. Full story.

[8.29am]: The  United States is sending an undersea Navy drone capable of exploring waters nearly 15,000 feet deep to potentially help search for any sunken wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the Pentagon said. Story here.

Strong gale force winds of up to 80 kilometres per hour halts air and sea search for MH370, Australia Maritime Safety Authority said. Search operations will resume tomorrow. Full story here.

The why and how about MH370 ended up in the remote rough seas will only be known once investigators get to 'fish' the black box of the Malaysian jet that is registered as 9M-MRO. Read what the experts say here.

DAY 17:

[11:36pm]: French investigators today said it was too soon to consider launching undersea searches for the remains of MH370. Full story here.

Malaysia Airlines vowed that the ongoing search for the plane and an intensive investigation into its fate "will continue, as we seek answers to the questions which remain". Full story here.

[11:27pm]: "God loves you more daddy....God loves them more."

The daughter of MH370 Chief Steward Andrew Nari tweeted the above, as the Prime Minister announced the sad news minutes ago. Full story here.

[11:03pm]: Relatives of the passengers on MH370 have been called to an emergency meeting with the company and charter flights are being arranged for Australia, Sky News reported. Full story here.

[10:03pm]: The Prime Minister, Najib Razak has confirmed that MAS flight MH370 ended in the Southern Indian Ocean, according to new data from INMARSAT and AAIB.
- Based on new analysis, INMARSAT and AAIB also concluded that MH370 flew along the Southern Corridor. The last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
- No further details were furnished during the press conference, and another press conference will be called tomorrow with further details.

Full statement here.

Malaysia Airlines has also released a statement:

On behalf of all of us at Malaysia Airlines and all Malaysians, our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time.

Full statement here.

This is the text alert Malaysia Airlines sent to the families of the MH370 passengers before PM Najib's official announcement today:

DAY 17

[10:03pm]: The Prime Minister, Najib Razak has confirmed that MAS flight MH370 ended in the Southern Indian Ocean, according to new data from INMARSAT and AAIB. Full story.
- Based on new analysis, INMARSAT and AAIB also concluded that MH370 flew along the Southern Corridor. The last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
- No further details were furnished during the press conference, and another press conference will be called tomorrow with further details.

[6:05pm]: Highlights from today’s press conference from PWTC:

- PM Najib Razak was informed ‘a few minutes ago’ by his Australian counterpart that two objects - one circular and another rectangular- were seen. Objects could be received within the next few hours or by tomorrow morning at the latest. Full report.
- Two orange objects approximately one metre in length and one white coloured drum were sighted by search aircraft, but remain unidentified and have not been conclusively linked to MH370.
- MAS CEO: Plane carried 200kgs of lithium-ion batteries that were packaged according to international guidelines and fruits. Cargo manifest is with investigation team. Australia has to request cargo list from the investigation team.
- Minister Hishammuddin Hussein confirmed that the plane was carrying wooden pallets, but no verification that the wooden pallet found was indeed from MH370.
- Police have questioned more than 100 people including families of both pilot and co-pilot. Full story.
- On diversion of another MAS flight to Incheon, MAS CEO says it was a ‘a technical problem with the generator’. “It’s not a safety issue, but a technical one that the aircraft had”.
- Hisham: Not discounting human element in the disappearance of the plane.
- MAS says co-pilot moved from a lower fleet to a B777. He passed the first five flights and was flying on MH370 with the pilot - a B777 examiner- on his sixth flight.

Full statement here.

[5:11pm]: A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon, the most advanced search aircraft in the world, had been unable to find objects spotted earlier on Monday by a Chinese aircraft. Full story here.

[4.11pm]: China's Foreign Ministry said it could not confirm that objects spotted by a its military aircraft earlier today were connected to the missing jetliner. Read.

[1.10pm]:
Chinese aircrew have spotted "suspicious objects" in the southern Indian Ocean in the search for the vanished Malaysia Airlines plane the official Xinhua news agency said. Read in full.

[12.34pm]: The US Navy is sending a black box locator to the search area in the southern Indian Ocean, in a move they call a 'precautionary measure' in case the field of debris is confirmed. Full story here.

[12:13pm]
: Malaysia Airlines confirms that a separate flight -  MH066 from Kuala Lumpur to Incheon on Sunday (March 23) - was diverted to Hong Kong due to an inoperative aircraft generator which supplies normal electrical power. However electrical power continued to be supplied by the Auxiliary Power Unit. The aircraft was then diverted to Hong Kong for rectification and landed uneventfully. Details.

Read the full statement.

[8.50am]: Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said in an interview with ABC Radio that the new lead in the widened hunt for MH370 was promising, but cautioned that the search in the remote icy southern Indian Ocean remained difficult.  Story here.

Search teams scouring the remote Southern India Ocean for MH370 have been hampered by low visibility as cloud and fog descended over parts of the area, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported. An Australian Air Force Lieutenant told the Australian daily that heavy cloud reduced his crew's ability, which he said was 'completely' engulfed in cloud at times, even at its lowest altitude. More here.

************************************

What we know as of Day 16, Sunday, 23 March 2014:

Search and rescue operations:

1. South corridor:
- Pallet and belts were spotted in the Indian Ocean.
- French satellites spotted possible MH370 debris in search area.
- Chinese satellites have spotted objects floating in the southern search area.
- The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (ASMA) is planning a 'visual search'
- Three Chinese warships and an icebreaker will join the search in the southern Indian Ocean.
- Two objects possibly related to MH370 have been spotted on Australian satellite imagery. Largest object sighted is 24 metres.
- The search in the next quadrant in the Southern Corridor covers 10,500 sq nautical miles, involving 6 planes and 2 ships.
- SAR ops in the Southern Corridor will be led by Indonesia and Australia.

2. North corridor:
- Countries involved in the Northern Search Corridor have not reported any possible sightings of MH370 on their radars.

3. Report by a sighting by a woman returning from Mecca: Hishammuddin says it will be investigated in due time, but focus now is the Aussie sightings.
4. Over 2.3 million people worldwide are searching for MH370, scanning thousands of satellite images on their PCs in a crowdsourcing effort.
5. India is combing through Andaman and Nicobar, made up of more than 500 mostly uninhabited islands.
6. An unauthorized leaked image taken by a Chinese satellite shows a possible crash site of MH370.Search aircraft eventually said they did not find anything.
7. A fleet of Earth-monitoring satellites by the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters has joined the search.

Investigation on pilots, crew, passengers, plane:

1. Transcripts of the communication between MH370 and air control is “ not accurate”.
2. Communications satellites picked up faint electronic pulses ("pings") from MH370 for hours after it went missing.
3. Police are investigating the matter from four angles: hijacking, sabotage, psychological problems, and personal problems among passengers and crew.
4. The PM said that the plane movement was consistent with "deliberate action" by someone on the plane.

5. Flight simulator:
- Data log was deleted from the pilot’s flight simulator on Feb 3, forensic work is being done to retrieve data.
- A flight simulator was taken from the home of MH370's pilot and is being examined by the police.

6. Pilots:
- No red flags in pilot and co-pilot backgrounds
- Last words from cockpit - ‘Alright, good night’ believed to be said by the co-pilot at 1.19am.
- MAS: The pilot and co-pilot did not ask to fly together, ands flew as assigned by the roster.
- Pilot’s friends share what they know about him.
- Police have searched both pilots’ homes.
- The flight was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, with total flying hours of 18,365 hours.
- First officer, Fariq Ab.Hamid, 27, has a total flying hours of 2,763 hours.

7. Plane:
- No additional waypoint on MH370’s flight plan. Normal route to Beijing. Full statement here .
- MAS says the plane departed with its planned fuel load with nothing extra.
- Plane was carrying three to four tonnes of mangosteen and 200kg of Li-Ion batteries, packaged according to guidelines.
- MAS insists that all planes are ‘airworthy’
- The B777-200 aircraft that operated MH207 had undergone maintenance 12 days before the flight. There were no issues.
- The aircraft was carrying 7.5 hours of fuel at the time of its disappearance (2.40am, March 8).

8. Missing passports:
- Two passengers travelling with stolen passports were likely migrants, not terrorists.
- The first, Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 19, had wanted to migrate to Germany.
- The second is Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza, 30. They had both stayed over at a friend’s house before leaving for MH370.

Situation in Malaysia:

1. MAS denies sending family members of MH370 passengers from Hong Kong to India instead of Malaysia.
2. Malaysia Airlines will provide a total of 31,000 yuan (RM16,577) to all families of MH370 passengers, and will be flown to the crash site once the location is known.
3. A local bomoh (shaman) and psychic claim to be able to find MH370, and an African televangelist says he predicted this last July. The bomoh returned for a second try, to the scorn and ridicule of netizens , resulting in online parodies.
4. The internet is ablaze with concerned netizens and celebrities expressing their views. Hashtags #MH370 and #PrayForMH370 were trending on Twitter.
5. MAS says all other flights will proceed as usual, for now, though now on ‘ code tango’ - a heightened security stage.

About the passengers:

1. Malaysia Airlines has retired the missing jetliner's flight code as a sign of respect to the 239 passengers and crew.
5. MH370 Full passenger list here .

Editors's note: The public may contact +603 7884 1234. Next-of-kin may head to the Support Facility Building at KLIA's South Support Zone. For directions, call 03 8787 1269.

A combination photo shows two men whom police said were travelling on stolen passports onboard the missing Malaysia …

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