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Missing Malaysia Airlines flight Mh370: Satellite data to be made public to appease families demanding ‘greater transparency’

Release agreed to by British satellite company Inmarsat and Malaysian government

The Malaysian government has agreed to make public the satellite data provided by the British company Inmarsat that tracked flight MH370 to its final location in the southern Indian Ocean.

The release will include both communication logs and detailed explanation to make the information comprehensible to the general public.

It comes after demands from some relatives of the 239 people who were on the plane when it disappeared, who have repeatedly accused the Malaysian government of hiding information about the incident.

Issuing a joint statement, the country’s Civil Aviation Department and London-based Inmarsat said they were releasing the data “in line with our commitment to greater transparency”.

Those leading the search for the missing Boeing 777 have described how they were “confident on the basis of the information provided” by Inmarsat, which used unprecedented techniques to track MH370’s “pings” from near the coast of Vietnam to a remote location west of Perth, Australia.

Yet despite launching the most expensive recovery operation in history, the international search team has not found a single physical trace of the plane.

The Malaysian government today insisted that the Inmarsat data was just one of many elements in its investigation. It did not say precisely when or how the data would be released.

“In moving forward, it is imperative for us to provide helpful information to the next of kin and general public, which will include the data communication logs as well as relevant explanation to enable the reader to understand the data provided,” the statement said.

Malaysia has been criticized for its handling of the crisis, especially by relatives of Chinese passengers who made up the majority on board the plane.

mh370-ocean-shield.jpgEarlier this month, family members urged Malaysia, China and Australia to review Inmarsat data to check its accuracy. In a letter to the countries’ leaders which is also posted on their Facebook page, a group of relatives said the data did not “support a definitive conclusion that no other flight path was possible”.

“We feel that it is necessary that the data be subject to independent third-party review. It is our hope that with out-of-box thinking, the whole world can help to look for the plane,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, the search off the west Australian coast moved into a new phase this week as a Chinese navy survey ship prepared to start mapping the seabed around where the plane is believed to have come down.

Officials said that the Chinese ship Zhu Kezhen will conduct a bathymetric survey of the Indian Ocean floor, and that it was scheduled to sail for the search area on Wednesday.

The US Navy’s unmanned submersible Bluefin 21 had continued its search efforts until last week, when a problem was discovered involving communication between it and the ship it is being towed by. It is currently being repaired at the Australian west coast port of Geraldton.