MH370 update underlines shift in control over search zones
There was a very clear yet nuanced message in tonight’s MH370 search update in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia’s search partners are running their own shows when it comes to looking for any trace of the Boeing 777-200ER and the 239 people who were on board when it went missing 11 days ago on a flight from KL to Beijing.
In apparent references to disquiet in China in particular, Malaysia’s foreign minister Anifah bin Aman and acting transport minister and minister of defence Hishammuddin Hussein repeatedly said MH370 was above politics, and that finding the plane was the first priority.
There were no new technical disclosures or any hints of progress in the now various and autonomous search efforts that Malaysia is ‘coordinating.’
Australian and Indonesia were taking responsibility for their sections of the southern arc of possible locations for the last satellite trace of MH370 at 8.11 am KL time, which had taken off for China’s capital at 12.40 am. (The border for Australian responsibility starts more than 300 kms south of Indonesia according to an earlier briefing by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.)
China and Khazakhstan had committed to running land searches in their parts of the northern corridor of possible locations for the last electronic trace of MH370, and a further 21 countries including the US, UK, France, Japan and NZ were sending aircraft or vessels to support various regional search efforts.
Hishammuddin Hussein said the revised timing for the disconnection of the on board ACARS automated data upload system on the 777 revealed at yesterday’s briefing didn’t change Malaysia’s belief that the changed course and disappearance of MH370 ‘was consistent with deliberate action’.
He said he couldn’t making any comment on continuing police investigations of the flight crew and passengers and in passing again claimed the Australian search effort involved three Orions and one C-130, not four Orions, and said China was contributing one aircraft, type not identified, to the Australian southern search.
The defence minister also said additional satellite resources and data was being provided but that he couldn’t disclose or identify those capabilities. This may be the most important thing the Malaysia authorities said at the briefing, and it was clearly intended to be put on the public record.