MH370 crash declared ‘an accident’

Written By komlim puldel on Kamis, 29 Januari 2015 | 20.01

The Search for MH370 video aims to explain the activities and complexity of the search effort to date, for families affected by the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, and the general public.

Sad news ... a briefing aboard the survey ship Go Phoenix searching for MH370. Source: Twitter

THE mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 has officially been declared an accident by Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation.

In an announcement that was itself shrouded in controversy when it was initially cancelled due to the presence of next of kin, Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told a press conference all 239 passengers and crew were "presumed to have lost their lives".

He said Malaysia Airlines was immediately ready to proceed with compensation payments for families of the victims.

"This declaration is by no means the end," said Mr Rahman.

"We will forge ahead with the assistance of the Governments of China and Australia.

"MH370, its passengers and its crews will always be remembered and honoured."

The investigation was now in the "search and recovery stage" but no hope was held of finding survivors.

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"Malaysia continues to cooperate with China and Australia for MH370's search to bring closure to the tragedy," said the Director-General.

"The search and recovery in the Indian Ocean remains a priority."

Investigations by international aviation authorities and the Malaysian Police were continuing but both were "limited by the lack of physical evidence, particularly the flight recorders".

The MH370 search area ... released by Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Source: Supplied

"Therefore at this juncture, there is no evidence to substantiate any speculations as to the cause of the accident," he said.

"An interim statement detailing the progress of the safety investigation is expected to be released on or around the one year anniversary of the accident."

MH370 search vessel ... Go Phoenix being resupplied in Fremantle to continue the search for missing Malaysian Airline plane. Source: Supplied

The statement is likely to be cold comfort to the families of passengers and crew, wondering if they will ever know the fate of their loved ones.

A search of the southern Indian Ocean which is believed to be the final resting place of the Boeing 777 has covered 30 per cent of the "priority" area without any trace of the aircraft.

The news comes as relatives of those missing on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protested in Beijing, demanding that the search for their loved ones not be called off.

A relative of a passenger of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 holds a picture of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak with the writing "Please bring back my husband". Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Around two dozen Chinese relatives of the missing protested at the Malaysian embassy early today.

Police officers cordoned off the area in Beijing's Chaoyang district, and more than 50 police cars, buses and five firetrucks were deployed to the area.

Families in Malaysia were also unhappy after they appeared at a press conference earlier which had been suddenly cancelled before Mr Rahman's pre-recorded announcement was aired.

A relative of a passenger who was on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 talks to journalists in Putrajaya. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

For families of those on board, it will mean Malaysia Airlines can now pay compensation of $180,000 per victim, as required by international conventions.

For the Australian-led search effort, it is a reminder of the importance of the mission underway in the southern Indian Ocean.

Now into its fourth month, the underwater search has been a gruelling task for the crews of the vessels involved.

Working around the clock, the four vessels have been using sonar equipment attached to lengthy cables to scour the ocean floor, hoping to find some evidence of the Boeing 777.

To date not a trace has been found, but experts say that is no indication they are looking in the wrong place.

Search continues ... a Fugro autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) launched from the Australian-contracted survey ship M/V Fugro Discovery as part of a new high-resolution search for MH370. Source: Supplied

The southern Indian Ocean is vast and a similar incident - the crash of Air France flight 447 in 2009 - took two years before the wreckage was found, when investigators had a good idea of where the A330 came down.

In the case of MH370, all investigators have to go on is a series of "pings" or handshakes recorded between the mute aircraft and satellites after all other ground communication was lost.

The pings have provided an "approximate" location for the aircraft's whereabouts during its doomed flight.

But even the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has conceded on several occasions they are working with probabilities, not certainties.

The current underwater search is expected to be completed in May.

Australian and Malaysian authorities have committed to continuing the search until the aircraft is found.

Hi-tech ... equipment used to search the seabed for any sign of the aircraft. Source: Supplied

Six Australians and two New Zealanders were among the 239 passengers and crew.

There has been official reason given for the aircraft's disappearance but theories have ranged from pilot sabotage and alien abduction.

There has even been speculation the aircraft was shot down by the US military because it was believed to have been hijacked by terrorists.

The International Air Transport Association is working with airlines to develop better technology to track aircraft to ensure there is never a repeat of MH370.

The Malaysia Airlines' flight was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished from radar screens on March 8, 2014 less than an hour into its journey.

All communications were lost and its last known position was between Malaysia and Vietnam.

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