Hunt for Flight 370 resumes in calmer seas
By TODD PITMAN, AP
March 26, 2014, 2:23 pm TWN
PERTH, Australia — The desperate, multinational hunt for Flight 370 resumed again Wednesday across a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean after fierce winds and high waves that had forced a daylong halt eased considerably.
A total of 12 planes and two ships from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were participating in the search, hoping to find even a single piece of the Malaysia Airlines jet that could offer tangible evidence of a crash.
Malaysia announced earlier this week that a mathematical analysis of the final known satellite signals from the plane had proved beyond doubt it gone down in the sea, taking the lives of all 239 people on board.
The new data vastly shrunk search zone, but it remains huge — an area estimated at 1.6 million square kilometers (622,000 square miles), about the size of Alaska.
"We're throwing everything we have at this search," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Nine network television on Wednesday.
"This is about the most inaccessible spot imaginable. It's thousands of kilometers from anywhere," he later told Seven Network television. He vowed that "we will do what we can to solve this riddle."
In Beijing, some families held out a glimmer of hope their loved ones might somehow have survived. About two-thirds of the missing are Chinese, and their relatives have lashed out at Malaysia for essentially declaring their family members dead without any physical evidence of the plane's remains. Many also believe that the Malaysian officials have not been transparent or swift in communicating information with them about the status of the search.
Wang Chunjiang, whose brother was on the plane, said he felt "very conflicted."
"We want to know the truth, but we are afraid the debris of the plane should be found," he said while waiting at a hotel near the Beijing airport for a meeting with Malaysian officials. "If they find debris, then our last hope would be dashed. We will not have even the slightest hope."
In China's capital a day earlier, nearly 100 relatives and their supporters marched to the Malaysian Embassy, where they threw plastic water bottles, tried to rush the gate and shouted, "Tell the truth! Return our relatives!"
In a statement of support for the families, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur to deal with the case, and Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng told Malaysia's ambassador that China wanted to know exactly what led to the announcement that the plane had been lost, a statement on the ministry's website said.
The plane's bizarre disappearance March 8 shortly after it took off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing has proven to be one of the biggest mysteries in aviation.
Investigators will be looking at various possibilities, including mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.