The search for a missing Malaysian airliner continued this week. The airplane carrying 239 passengers and crew members disappeared on March 8th. Last Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
“We wanted to inform you of this new development at the earliest opportunity.”
Satellite records show that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 likely crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. Malaysian officials say the flight ended west of the Australian city of Perth.
Australian Defense Minister David Johnston describes the waters in that area as an extremely difficult environment.
“Remember, this Southern Ocean, has shipwrecked many, many sailors in our history in Western Australia. It is rough. There are 20-, 30-meter waves. It is very, very dangerous, even for big ships.”
Chinese Protest Malaysian Delays Releasing Information
The Boeing 777 aircraft was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing at the time of its disappearance. On Tuesday, protesters marched toward the Malaysian embassy in Beijing. They were angry about the way Malaysian officials have reacted to the disappearance of Flight 370. The protesters demanded more information.
The same day, Malaysia Airlines officials met with reporters. They defended their decision to inform families and the world that Malaysian officials now consider the flight lost.
Two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese. The Australian government is easing visa and immigration rules to permit relatives to travel to Perth. The city’s Chinese community has offered to assist the visitors.
Critics say Malaysia has been keeping information from victims’ families and the media. The British satellite company Inmarsat told Malaysian officials four days after the disappearance that they had received hourly signals from the plane. Yet the officials were said to have waited three days before acting on that information.
John Goglia has investigated plane crashes for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. He noted Malaysia’s lack of experience with air disasters.
“In this particular instance, what had come out certainly seemed disconnected. Seemed like they didn’t follow any of the known processes that had been established for years and years.”
Other Southeast Asian countries were quick to join the search. But they were slow to share radar or satellite information with Malaysia about possible sightings.
Malaysia is in a difficult position. Some observers say it does not want to anger China. Yet China’s Global Times newspaper published editorials blaming Malaysia’s government. One piece read: “Malaysia is determined to enter the ranks of developed countries by 2020. But judging from its handling of the MH370 incident, Malaysia’s modernization will take far longer than this.”
Malaysia has a growing tourist industry. Last year, 1.8 million Chinese visited the country. But this could change because of Flight 370.
On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry again called for more exact information from Malaysia on the details of the search. A spokesman said he hoped Malaysia would improve its communications with China.
This continues to be a developing story. For the latest information, go to VOANews.com
And that’s In The News from VOA Learning English. I’m Steve Ember.