Families angered by report of MH370 debris
March 20, 2014, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - For the searchers scouring a vast swath of ocean for a vanished airliner, the objects on the satellite images provided hope that the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 may be found.
March 20, 2014 By The Globe and Mail
But in the Beijing hotel that has become the outlet for fury and
desperation among families of those on that flight, the images offered
little. The families have now endured a wait of nearly two weeks, with
each bit of new information, to this point, yielding nothing. For Wen
Wancheng, whose son was on the Boeing-777, the possible debris located
on Australian satellite images – which authorities called a “credible
lead” to the aircraft’s whereabouts – served only to provoke anger.
The long wait means the best search window has already been “lost,”
he said, spitting out his words outside the family room on the second
floor of Beijing’s Lido Hotel.
He lashed out at the inability by
authorities to quickly identify radar and satellite signals that only in
recent days directed search efforts to the waters some 2,500 kilometres
south-west of Australia, where the satellite spotted two large objects
in the water. Even those images offered reason for anger, with a date
stamp of March 16, four days earlier. Malaysian authorities said it was
unclear when the images were captured. But for the families, the
seemingly-lengthy delays are “the same as killing people,” said Mr. Wen,
nearly shouting. “This is murder.”
The discovery of the objects
sparked a rapid bid to verify what they are, amid cautions that they may
prove to be nothing. In fact, debris such as floating containers is
relatively common in the area.
“The task of locating these objects
will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not
related to the search for flight MH370,” Australian Prime Minister Tony
Still, four aircraft were diverted to look more
closely; the first, a Royal Australian Air Force search plane, failed to
find anything. Merchant ships and an Australian naval ship were also
dispatched to look for the debris.
In Malaysia, meanwhile, those
overseeing the search have already begun to cast their mind to what
might happen if the debris is shown to belong to MH370. At a daily
update briefing, Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein made
frequent references to the search for Air France flight 447, which took
nearly two years to recover the “black box” flight data recorder.
“Deep sea searches and surveillance is something that we are already looking into,” Mr. Hussein said.
if the wreckage is located, black boxes are designed to send out
location pings for 30 days. After that, the search for information on
what happened to the vanished aircraft becomes significantly more
difficult. The first signs of wreckage from the Air France flight, for
example, were spotted less than two days after it crashed. It has now
been nearly two weeks since MH370 disappeared, a length of time that
would allow ocean currents to substantially move any wreckage from the
site of impact.
Yet for some of those with loved ones aboard the
plane, hope continues. Family members have scrawled messages on a paper
inside a room at the Lido Hotel. Photos of the messages posted on
Chinese social media offer a window into their continuing agony.
is addressed to “dear husband,” and says: “every day I insist on
calling you and sending you a QQ [mobile chat] message. I firmly believe
that I will definitely see you. Today is my birthday. Did you forget
A son writes to his father: “I just want to see your face. I
just want to hold your hand. I just to want to listen to what you have
to teach me.” A wife to her husband: “You must be strong. I am waiting
Another, written to “Little Bean,” says: “I have bought
your favourite Tiffany and Co. ring for you. I am waiting for you to
come back so I can put the ring on your finger and ask you to marry me.”