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Cyclone curtails aerial search for MH370
by Staff Writers
Perth, Australia (AFP) April 22, 2014

MH370 relatives reject Malaysian conclusions on plane
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) April 22, 2014 - Relatives of flight MH370 passengers have denounced the Malaysian government's suggestion that it would soon look into issuing death certificates for those on board despite no proof yet of what happened to the plane.

The statement, issued in response to a weekend briefing that Malaysian officials gave to families in Kuala Lumpur, also called for a review of satellite data that Malaysia says indicates the plane likely crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

"We, the families of MH370, believe that until they have conclusive proof that the plane crashed with no survivors, they have no right to attempt to settle this case with the issuance of death certificates and final payoffs," said the statement by the "United Families of MH370".

In Sunday's briefing, a Malaysian official said the government would look into a timetable for issuing death certificates for passengers on the Malaysia Airlines flight, which are required for families to seek insurance payments, settle debts and address a range of other issues.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainudin also asked relatives in the meeting to submit a proposal for government financial assistance for families as the MH370 search wears on.

But relatives, who have repeatedly accused the government and national airline of botching a response to the plane's disappearance and withholding information, said Malaysian authorities were playing an agonising "cat and mouse game" over the fate of their loved ones.

"WE ARE IN UTTER OUTRAGE, DESPAIR AND SHOCK!" the statement said, using bold caps.

Malaysian officials could not immediately be reached to comment. The government and airline deny they are hiding anything.

The Boeing 777 went missing March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard.

Malaysia says satellite data indicates the plane crashed in the remote Indian Ocean but no proof has been found despite an intensive multi-nation sea search.

Demanding hard evidence, some vocal relatives have repeatedly said they were unconvinced by Malaysia's conclusions on the data analysis, performed by British satellite communications firm Inmarsat.

"They have failed to share why they would accept a single source (Inmarsat) for analysis utilising a never before attempted method, as their sole grounds for determining that the plane is under the water and all lives lost," the families said.

The statement said they requested an independent peer review, but the suggestion was rejected on grounds Inmarsat's data was under privacy protections.

In the Sunday meeting, "not a single one of our questions was answered," it added.

A public opinion poll published last week found that more than half of Malaysians believe their scandal-prone government -- which has controlled the country for 57 years -- is hiding the full truth on MH370.

The aerial search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 was suspended Tuesday due to a tropical cyclone, but not before several aircraft had departed on the mission, Australian officials said.

Up to 10 military aircraft had been scheduled to fly over the Indian Ocean in hopes of spotting clues as to the fate of the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 carrying 239 people.

"Planned air search activities have been suspended for today due to poor weather conditions in the search area as a result of Tropical Cyclone Jack," Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre said, adding that 10 ships in the search zone would continue their work.

"It has been determined that the current weather conditions are resulting in heavy seas and poor visibility, and would make any air search activities ineffective and potentially hazardous."

JACC later advised that prior to the decision to suspend search activities, four military aircraft had left the Pearce air base north of Perth, bound for the 49,491 square kilometre (19,108 square mile) visual search zone in the remote Indian Ocean.

A fifth plane helping coordinate the search also left from the Learmonth base on Australia's western coast.

"These aircraft will continue with their missions, however, individual aircraft captains will assess the conditions once on station and use their discretion as to whether they continue their planned search activities or return to base."

Australia is leading the hunt for MH370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean after veering sharply from its route for no apparent reason.

No debris has yet been found from the plane and authorities say their best lead has been signals picked up by a black box locator earlier this month, which have since fallen silent.

Australia's Ocean Shield ship has deployed an underwater autonomous vehicle (UAV) to scour the seabed at a depth of some 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) in the vicinity of these signals, hoping to find wreckage of the missing plane.

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott suggested last week that the submersible Bluefin-21 would only be deployed for about a week, and the sonar scanning device has already covered two-thirds of the search zone without result.

"Bluefin-21 AUV has completed the ninth mission. No contacts of interest have been found," JACC said late Tuesday.

"Bluefin-21 is currently undertaking mission ten in the underwater search area."

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said severe Tropical Cyclone Jack was about 700 kilometres west-southwest of the Cocos Islands and moving south-southeast early Tuesday.

While it posed no threat to the Cocos Islands or Western Australia, the likelihood of the system remaining a tropical cyclone in the region was high on Tuesday.


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MH370 search to be most costly ever at $100 mln: analysts
Sydney (AFP) April 18, 2014
The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is set to be the most expensive in aviation history, analysts say, as efforts to find the aircraft deep under the Indian Ocean show no signs of slowing. The Boeing 777 vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, after veering dramatically off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed in the sea off Aus ... read more

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