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Is the south Indian Ocean less cruel than social media trolls?[/caption]
Much is being made about the ATSB admitting that it is searching in the wrong place for the sunk wreckage of MH370.
It’s an easy but cheap shot to make.
Let’s try and find a metaphor for what has been going on.
Your child has gone missing on a character building school sponsored solo sailors event in the vast expanse of the south Indian Ocean. To save money, it is later discovered that the yacht outfitter didn’t store emergency beacons on board the vessels. A bit like Malaysia Airlines failing to subscribe to the full suite of ACARS based flight performance updates on MH370.
A very thin trace of signals exchanged between your child’s sat phone and the relevant satellite says he or she headed off into a particular large expanse of what is an even larger wilderness area.
And then the signals stopped.
The question some critics of the ATSB led search are seriously posing in metaphorical terms is whether a search should be immediately mounted, or whether it is better to wait a few days, maybe even weeks, until there is more certainty as to precisely which part of the wilderness your kid
Needless to say, the decision is to search as thoroughly as possible immediately in the wider area that the signal exchange points to. A last arc of possible locations is traced on the featureless map of the ocean.
You want to find your child, hope against hope, in that howling ocean, before any trace of the boat is smashed, dispersed, or sunk. As your loss sets in, you want your child’s body found before it is eaten and becomes part of the marine food chain.
You want something, anything, to help ease the agony of the death of a child, something tangible, to bury or memorialize.
And you want a whole painful load of answers to terrible questions.
This in human terms is what the search for MH370 has been about. It takes place in Australia’s defined search and rescue zone of responsibility.
The moment this metaphorical search for a missing child, mine or yours, was begun it was by the standards of the unthinking, cheap shot popular media pack, happening in the wrong place.
It's not a wrong place until it has been thoroughly examined. In the actual First Principles review, which some media clearly didn't read, the search partners conclude that there remains a five percent chance the current almost exhausted search zone is the right place.
The only wrong search decision would be not to look anywhere until there was certainty, and thus no need for a search.
Because no survivor, no body, no piece of wreckage, was found doesn't mean deliberately wasted effort. The searching that has been done has been the right searching, for reasons of hope and urgency and decency for those who lost their loved ones.
So it has been with MH370. The 239 people who were on board the flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing on March 8, 2014, have long been deceased in the minds of those who have been through the savage agony of knowing that all hope of survival is gone.
The searchers have visited and revisited the clues, the shreds of evidence, and the various scenarios that present themselves, in efforts to refine their search effort.
There remain huge variables that could have caused MH370 to concentrate heavy wreckage as little as a few metres to one side or other of the paths scanned by the sonar equipped towfish.
But the ‘failed’ search is just like failed searches to find children lost in the bush, or at sea. It may eventually succeed, and that is why the searchers persist, even if their Ministers, Secretaries or department heads, may hesitate.
Have they been looking in the wrong place? Only if seen through the eyes of often loud mouthed rent seekers who latch onto MH370 as an opportunity to mock or to posture.