Day Nine: Search shifts to two corridors, crew and passengers investigation
[02.40 pm Malaysia local time, Sunday 16 March 2014]
The Malaysian defence and acting minister of transport Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein (filepic) delivered the following statement in a series of Tweets (@H20Comms):
MH370 PRESS STATEMENT
BY MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT, MALAYSIA
1. Search and rescue operational update
a. The search and rescue operation continues to be a multi-national effort, led by Malaysia.
b. Malaysian officials are contacting countries along the northern and southern corridors about MH370. These countries include: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and France. Officials are requesting assistance from these countries.
c. Malaysian officials are currently discussing with all partners how best to deploy assets along the two corridors.
d. Malaysian officials are also asking countries to provide further assistance in the search for the aircraft, including: satellite data and analysis; ground-search capabilities; radar data; and maritime and air assets.
e. Both the northern and southern corridors are being treated with equal importance.
2. Update on the police investigation into MH370’s crew and passengers
a. As per normal procedure, the Royal Malaysia Police are investigating all crew and passengers on board MH370, as well as engineers who may have had contact with the aircraft before take-off.
b. Police searched the home of the pilot on Saturday 15 March. Officers spoke to family members of the pilot and experts are examining the pilot’s flight simulator. On 15 March, the police also searched the home of the co-pilot.
c. We appeal to the public not to jump to conclusions regarding the police investigation.
A new phase
[05.30 pm local MYT, 16 March 2014] The SAR media conference included Malaysian'sInspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (filepic) who gave updates on the renewed focus into crew and passengers of MH370.
Minister Hishamuddin confirmed the points of his afternoon statement and added that the search was already a highly complex, international effort. "It has now become more complex and the nature has changed to include large sections of land of 11 countries and the oceans of the two corridors, both of which are being treated with equal importance."
"The search and rescue continues to be a multinational effort. Since the Prime Minister Najib's address yesterday, the foreign minister has briefed 22 countries and requested assets, and satellite and other data to help narrow the search," he said.
He said he will not comment on speculations regarding the investigation into crew and passengers on board MH370 as well as all ground staff handling the craft.
Yesterday, the Royal Malaysian police visited the homes of the pilot and co-pilot. It was confirmed the two did not ask to fly together.
There are now new leads and we will keep the media fully briefed as much as possible, he said.
The Q&A session included the following responses:
- Malaysian military radar: Why was 'blip' of MH370 flying across mainland missed? The minister said there was no breach of national security. This is an unprecedented case and there are lessons to be learned by everybody and may change aviation history.
- Police investigation: IGP Khalid Abu Bakar said personal problems, psychological problems of all involved, terrorism are all being investigated. The investigation has now been intensified due to suspicion of acts of terrorism, sabotage and offences against the aviation act.
Hishamuddin confirmed that the passenger and crew were under investigation from the beginning and that no group has made any demands for MH370. Also asked when the transponder stopped functioning, he said it was after (presumably) a pilot wished '...All right. Good Night,' during the switchover from Malaysian to Vietnamese ATC (air traffic control).
IGP Khalid said they are still awaiting background checks on all on board. The flight simulator belonging to the chief pilot has been removed for further investigation; but all the people on board and on ground are being investigated.
- Interpol help denied? Minister Hishamuddin said we have cooperation from many intelligence agencies around the world.
- Fuel: The Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari said MH370 took off with just the planned fuel for the KL-Beijing route. In addition, the craft had been fully serviced, according to all the required safety levels.
-Reenactment of flight and cargo manifest: Malaysia Airlines’ Jauhari said the reenactment used a 777 and the cargo manifest of flight MH340 did not include any hazardous materials.
In addition, SAR director and Civil Aviation Defence chief Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that the experts from the US and UK have used the satellite data from multiple sources to estimate the search zones. The teams determined their findings separately and these concur.
- SAR assets: Currently, the Search and Rescue (SAR) operations now include 43 ships and 58 aircraft.