It is now Day 5 since the disappearance of MH370 and Malaysian authorities are not giving the impression that they know what they are doing. The plane that was “found” has been “unfound”. The Chief of the Air Force has “unsaid” what he is reported to have said yesterday. He now denies that he said that the plane had been tracked to the Straits of Malacca.
(Reuters) – Malaysia’s air force chief denied a media report that the military last tracked a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner over the Strait of Malacca, far from where it last made contact with civilian air traffic control when it disappeared four days ago.
“I wish to state that I did not make any such statements,” air force chief Rodzali Daud said in a statement on Wednesday.
Now searches are including land masses for the first time.
(Reuters) – China’s air force will add two planes to the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner, the country’s civil aviation chief said on Wednesday, adding that search and rescue efforts would be broadened to include land areas.
High ranking Malaysian officials are distinguishing themselves by contradicting their earlier statements. The statement by the Chief of the Air Force is just the latest in a series of mis-statements. It all started with the Home Minister who felt it necessary to protect himself by blaming immigration officials.
One of the issues that stands out is the contradictions made by different Malaysian authorities involved in the investigation. As they write:
Only two are known to have been travelling on stolen passports. Both are thought to be Iranian, probably seeking asylum in Europe, Interpol’s secretary general has said.
There was confusion earlier because the Malaysian home minister had described them as appearing to be Asian but was then contradicted by the civil aviation chief, who appeared to suggest that one of the men looked like the black Italian footballer Mario Balotelli. Most journalists present took that to mean that he was black, although the Ministry of Transportation later clarified that the civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, had been trying to emphasise that ethnicity did not indicate nationality.
On Monday, the civil aviation chief said five people checked in but did not board and their baggage was removed accordingly. On Tuesday, the inspector general of police said that everyone who was booked on to the flight had boarded – though he then contradicted himself by saying one person had missed the flight because they got the wrong day. Malaysia Airlines says that four people were booked but never checked in.
And once more (although this change is from Malaysia Airlines):
This is perhaps the most confusing aspect of all. Malaysia Airlines repeatedly said that Subang air traffic control – which covers Kuala Lumpur airport – lost contact with the aircraft at 2.40am, almost two hours after takeoff, but later revised its last known contact to 1.30am.
…… There’s been significant criticism of the handling of the search, particularly of the comments made by Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar. The official said on Tuesday that there were four scenarios they were likely looking at: “We are looking into four areas: one hijacking, two sabotage, three psychological problems of the passengers and crew and four personal problems among the passengers and crew.” Here’s how these comments have been received:
Steve Marks, a lawyer at the US firm Podhurst Orseck, which represented relatives of victims of a SilkAir crash in Asia in 1997 and the Air France crash in 2009, said he was suspicious of information being released by Malaysia.
On Tuesday Malaysian investigators said they were still looking at a range of theories including hijacking and possible sabotage by a passenger or crew member.
Marks said: “In my opinion terrorism and pilot suicide are very remote and farfetched. It can’t be ruled out 100% but it certainly shouldn’t be the focus. That kind of speculation without proof is very damaging and hurtful to the families.”
Marks said the complete lack of any information about what happened to the plane does tended to support the view of “a complete catastrophic failure at altitude.”