Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Secret services involvement in investigation sparks speculation over terrorism

Frustrated Chinese families protest against authorities as US naval officer says search could take years

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Monday 31 March 2014 10:23
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Chinese relatives of the passengers on board the missing Malaysia flight MH370 demand better information from authorities
Chinese relatives of the passengers on board the missing Malaysia flight MH370 demand better information from authorities

Malaysian authorities have revealed secret services from the UK, the US and China have been involved in the investigations into the disappearance of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, adding to speculation that the plane’s disappearance could be down to terrorism.

MI6, the CIA and Chinese agencies have been looking into the flight simulator found in the home of the flight’s Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, though acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the FBI has found nothing sinister in the device.

He said the Inspector General of Police has highlighted the “ four possible scenarios of what could have caused the plane to disappear, which are terrorism, hijacking, personal and psychological problems, or technical failure.

“These scenarios have been discussed at length with different intelligence agencies,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chinese relatives of the passengers on board the missing Malaysia airlines flight MH370 have flown to Kuala Lumpur in frustration to try and find answers from authorities, as an American naval officer has said the search could take years.

The relatives claim they have not been given enough new information from authorities dealing with the search, and on Sunday held a press conference in which they held up banners and the Chinese flag, chanting: “We want evidence, truth, dignity.”

The group, of which some have accused Malaysian withholding information, held up banners that read: “You must return relatives of MH370, no strings attached”.

They have demanded an apology from authorities for its handling of the disaster, and for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s earlier statement that suggested the plane had crashed with no survivors.

Two-thirds of the 227 passengers on board the flight that went missing on 8 March were Chinese. Jiang Hui, the relatives’ designated representative, said the group felt the decision that there would be no survivors was made without sufficient evidence.

Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Saturday the search for survivors would continue, claiming “we are hoping against hope that we will find survivors”.

But a U.S. naval officer on Sunday suggested the search could take years.

U.S. Navy Captain Mark Matthews told journalists at Stirling Naval Base in Perth, Australia: “Right now the search area is basically the size of the Indian Ocean, which would take an untenable amount of time to search.”

He added: “If you compare this to the Air France flight 447, we had much better positional information of where that aircraft went into the water.” The Air France flight which crashed in 2009 near Brazil was missing for two years before it was found.

Captain Matthews is in charge of the U.S. Towed Pinger Locator (TPL), an unmanned underwater vehicle designed to locate the aircraft’s black box, which can trace pings emitted from as deep as 6,000 meters underwater. It has been loaded onto the Australian warship Ocean Shield as it sets off to the search area along with other acoustic detection equipment.

Ships from China and Australia managed to retrieve “objects from the ocean” on Saturday, but none have been “confirmed or related” to flight MH370, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is overseeing the search.

There are now 10 ships and 10 aircraft searching a massive area in the Indian Ocean to the west of Perth, in a race to find the crucial black box recorder before its batteries are expected to die in the coming days.

The search zone is roughly the size of Poland and it is expected to take Ocean Shield three to four days to travel the 1,150 miles from Perth to reach the designated area.

The black box could hold the key to understanding what happened to the flight when it disappeared three weeks ago. The device consists of two boxes that record vital information; one is a cockpit recorder that stores conversations and other noises from the area, while the other records a stream of flight information.

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