Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

Malaysia Formally Declares Dead All People Aboard MH370

By John Grafilo, dpa (TNS)

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia on Thursday officially declared dead the 239 people aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared in March, allowing the bereaved to claim compensation.

After 327 days and based on all available data, it was highly unlikely anyone had survived, said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, chief of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation.

“All 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives,” he said in a televised statement.

“It is hoped that this declaration will enable the families to obtain the assistance they need, in particular through the compensation process,” he said.

The airliner disappeared an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8.

Azharuddin assured the families that the search for the missing MH370 would remain a priority, “with the continuing cooperation and assistance of the governments of China and Australia,” he added.

Search operations have focused on the southern Indian Ocean, where data showed the jetliner was likely to have crashed.

Thursday’s announcement drew angry reactions from relatives and loved ones in China, where most of the passengers were from, and where many have resisted declaring the missing dead before finding the wreckage.

“I hope those bastards die horrible deaths,” a man calling himself Zhang Jianyi wrote on an online forum with journalists in reaction to the move by Malaysian authorities.

“Such an announcement without any evidence — this shows lack of principles,” wrote another, calling herself Yingying.

Before the announcement, around two dozen people demonstrated outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, calling for the search not to be stopped.

“The search is not over and they have not gotten enough evidence to conclude the aircraft is lost!” said Zhang Yuxi, father of one of the passengers.

“It would be disrespectful to life and disrespectful to the Chinese people” to call off the search before finding any wreckage, he said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry put out a statement to “assure the families of all the Chinese passengers that they are always on the mind of the Party and the government, who will be with them through these trying times.”

China also called on Malaysia to fulfill all its obligations to the victims and those left behind.

The statement called on Malaysia to “fulfill its obligation of compensation, protect the lawful rights and interests of the families and provide them with support and assistance.”

“We also call on the Malaysian side to remain fully committed to the search and investigation efforts and keep the families updated on the latest progress,” it added.

Malaysian authorities faced criticism in the early days of the search for delayed or unclear information releases.

China also vowed to continue working with Malaysia and Australia in the search for the missing jetliner.

Earlier in the day, Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) called off a planned press conference after a large crowd of relatives and press rushed to the briefing area at the federal government centre in Putrajaya.

Some relatives brought pictures of their missing loved ones, others brought their children with them and waited for over two hours in vain for the press conference.

Several relatives took to the social networking site Facebook and Twitter to expressed their disgust over the government declaration.

“It’s cold and cruel,” Intan Maizura Othaman, whose husband was one of the flight crew, posted on Twitter. “Prime Minister Najib Razak, thank you sir for declaring my husband’s death to the world and not to us, family.”

“I can accept the fact that they won’t come back,” tweeted Maira Elizabeth Nari, whose father, Andrew, was the plane’s chief steward. “But justice is a must for the families of MH370.”

AFP Photo/Manan Vatsyayana

Bodies Recovered In Search For Missing AirAsia Flight

By Shashank Bengali and Ahmad Pathoni, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Searchers recovered bodies from the Java Sea on Tuesday and found what officials said wreckage from Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 as the three-day mystery over the plane’s whereabouts reached a heartbreaking resolution for the families of 162 people aboard.

“I am absolutely devastated,” Tony Fernandes, AirAsia’s chief executive, said in a statement.

“This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search-and-rescue operations but our first priority now is the well-being of the family members of those on board QZ8501,” he said.

AirAsia said debris belonging to its aircraft was found in the Karimata Strait — between Singapore and Indonesia — about 110 nautical miles southwest of Pangkalan Bun, on the southern edge of Borneo island.

The debris was about six miles from the last known location of the aircraft, which lost contact Sunday morning while flying in heavy thunderstorms to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia.

“It’s confirmed 100 percent that debris found in the sea are parts of the AirAsia plane,” search chief Bambang Soelistyo said.

Relatives who had huddled and prayed since Sunday at the international airport in Surayaba broke down and wept as television images showed rescuers being lowered into the Java Sea to retrieve swollen bodies floating at the water’s surface.

AirAsia said it would bring counselors and religious and spiritual personnel to the crisis center it has set up at the Surabaya airport to help the grieving families.

There were seven crew members and 155 passengers on board, including 137 adults, 17 children and one infant, the airline said. Almost all were Indonesians.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, speaking at the Surabaya airport, said, “I feel the loss and we all pray that all the families be given strength in this trying time.”

Widodo said that ships and aircraft on Wednesday would continue a large-scale search operation to locate and retrieve the remaining bodies.

“The focus should be to evacuate the passengers and the crew,” he said.

Indonesian planes involved in the search operation saw “an object that formed a shadow under the sea in the shape of an aircraft,” Bambang, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, said during a news conference in Jakarta.

Indonesia’s TV One said six bodies were spotted and three retrieved by search teams in the waters between the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. The bodies were being taken by the Indonesian military to Banjarmasin, a port on the southern edge of Borneo, news media reported.

Officials at Singapore’s Changi International Airport issued a Twitter statement saying, “We are saddened to hear the latest news of #QZ8501. We are working closely with AirAsia on travel arrangements for the next-of-kin.”

Ships and aircraft from at least five countries have been searching across tens of thousands of square miles of sea and land between Indonesia and Singapore since Sunday.

A San Diego-based U.S. Navy destroyer, the Sampson, was heading toward the Java Sea and due to arrive later Tuesday to assist in the search-and-recovery effort.

Photo: Families of the passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 wait for news at Surabaya International Airport on Dec. 29, 2014 in Surabaya, Indonesia. The missing AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 is likely to be at the bottom of the sea, the head of Indonesia’s search-and-rescue agency has said. (Imago/ZUMA Press/TNS)

…And This Is The Overkill News Network

Enough, already.

Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN … enough. Put your hands up and step away from the story.

I’m in the doctor’s office the other day, right? I’m waiting for my missus and the TV is on and I’m half watching, half reading and you’re covering the plane. And time passes. And you’re covering the plane. And commercials intervene and you come back and you’re covering the plane. And my wife comes out and it’s time to go and it’s been a solid hour and you’re still covering the plane. Nothing but the plane.

I’m on your website maybe six times a day, CNN, grazing for news. Have you had another lead story in the last month? Has nothing else of importance happened to any of the 7.1 billion people on this planet? I look at you and I want to start screaming like Tattoo on Fantasy Island: “De plane! De plane! De plane!”

And CNN, is it really true your “coverage” includes asking whether aliens abducted Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? Or whether it was swallowed by the Bermuda Triangle? Did you actually wonder aloud if it had flown into a black hole?

Sigh.

You know what, CNN? I don’t even watch cable news anymore. Haven’t for years. Not interested in imbibing MSNBC’s perennially aggrieved liberalism nor Fox’s angry-all-the-time conservatism. Not interested in watching you play with your holograms, either. But there are days when you’ve got no choice. There’s been a school shooting, a terrorist attack, a national election. On those days, CNN, I always turn to you on the theory — or maybe just the faint hope — that there still flickers within you some faint, vestigial notion of what news is — some last bit of fealty to the ideal of getting the facts and telling the story, giving people information they need to understand their world and make decisions about their lives.

Yes, you’re right. That’s so 1978 of me.

Look, CNN, I know that before this happened your numbers were in the tank and you were down to your last dozen viewers or so. I’m not without sympathy. Still, there’s something sadly … whorish in the way you chase the ratings bump this story has given you. One struggles to imagine the aforementioned Cronkite, much less the sainted Edward R. Murrow — peace be upon him — selling their newsmen’s souls so nakedly just so their network might charge a little more for toilet paper commercials.

But then, Ed and Uncle Walter have left the building, haven’t they? And yes, maybe they had the luxury of regarding the news as a public service, a sacred trust, consonant with Thomas Jefferson’s belief that an informed electorate was vital to a self-governing nation. But you have no such luxury. What you have is a 24/7 news cycle and the need to fill it — if not with news, then speculation, if not speculation, then controversy, if not controversy then opinion, if not opinion, then froth.

Fine. But this is not a trend without impact, CNN. We are becoming a stupider people. You see it in test scores, but you see it more viscerally in the way some of us equate higher volume with sounder logic, wear party as identity, refuse new information that challenges old beliefs, act as if everything must entertain us. Even the news.

It seems like somebody ought to take a stand against that. Just saying.

Granted, the missing jetliner is not an unimportant story. But neither is it a story deserving of the kind of round-the-clock-man-on-the-moon-war-is-over-presidential-assassination coverage you have given it.

CNN, that jet isn’t the only thing lost. Have you seen your credibility lately?

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

AFP Photo/ Ted Aljibe

Two Ships Scour 150-Mile Path For ‘Black Box’ Signal From Missing Malaysian Plane

By Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times

BEIJING — Investigators began searching underwater Friday for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with two ships homing in on a 150-mile path in the Indian Ocean where analysts believe the jet probably went down.

A pinger locator lent by the U.S. Navy was being towed by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, trying to pick up signals from the Boeing 777’s flight data recorder. A British ship with similar capabilities, the Echo, was also participating. The two vessels were dispatched to converge toward each other along the path more than 1,000 miles off the west coast of Australia.

Angus Houston, who is coordinating the search from the Australian city of Perth, said the path was chosen based on an analysis of six hours of satellite pings transmitted hourly from the plane to a satellite after other communications devices on the jetliner were turned off. But without speed or altitude data to factor into the calculations, investigators have had to model possible paths for the plane’s entry into the water.

Flight 370 disappeared 27 days ago en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people aboard, and Houston conceded that the battery life of the flight data recorder was getting close to expiring. He said investigators had no plans to obtain other pinger locators to add to the search. “These things are in very short supply,” he said at a news conference in Perth.

Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy, commander of the joint task force 658, said the two ships were traveling at just three knots (3.4 miles per hour) to search at depths of nearly 10,000 feet. At that rate, it would take more than 24 hours for the two ships to cover the 150-mile track.

“The search using subsurface equipment needs to be methodical and carefully executed in order to effectively detect the faint signal of the pinger,” Leavy added.

Even if the battery on the flight data recorder expires, Houston noted that investigators could continue their subsurface search. The Ocean Shield, he said, carries an unmanned underwater exploration vehicle that can search the ocean floor for up to 24 hours at a time.

In addition to the Ocean Shield and Echo, seven other ships were participating in Friday’s search, along with 10 military planes and four civilian aircraft. Some of those other ships carry helicopters that can help look for surface debris.

“We will continue the surface search for a good deal more time,” said Houston, adding that there was a “great possibility” of finding debris.

He emphasized that finding wreckage remained crucial to narrowing down the search area. “The area is vast and remote,” he added, comparing it to the size of Ireland. “We have not searched everywhere that the aircraft might have gone.”

Over the last week, the search area has been gradually nudged further northwest of Perth, and Houston said the zone would continue to be adjusted on a “semi-regular” basis.

Asked about the cost of the search, Houston conceded that “it’s a lot of money” but refused to get into specifics. He said Australian and Malaysia officials were working on drafting a “comprehensive agreement” about the search, including how to handle debris and victims if they are eventually found, and other “critical decision points.”

In an indication that authorities remain hopeful that the search will locate the plane, Houston said Australian officials were making plans to host relatives of people aboard Flight 370 who are expected to arrive in Perth shortly.

Asked about Malaysia authorities’ statement that the plane’s disappearance had been categorized as a criminal investigation, Houston said that decision was “not relevant” to the work of the searchers at this time.

Xinhua/Zuma Press/MCT