U.S. firm Ocean Infinity says hopeful of getting MH370 search contract soon

- A woman leaves a message of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2014.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – U.S.-based seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity on Wednesday said it was moving a vessel closer to a possible search area for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 as it soon expects to be awarded a contract by Malaysia to resume the search.

The disappearance of the aircraft en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 with 239 people aboard ranks among the world’s greatest aviation mysteries. Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200-million ($156.62 million) search in January last year.

But in October, Malaysia said it was in talks with Ocean Infinity to resume the search on a “no-cure, no-fee” basis, meaning it will only get paid if it finds the plane.

“Ocean Infinity is hopeful of receiving the final contract award for the resumption of the search for MH370 over the coming days,” a company spokesman told Reuters in an emailed statement.

“With a relatively narrow weather window, we are moving the vessel, Seabed Constructor, towards the vicinity of the possible search zone. This is designed to save time should the contract award be forthcoming, as hoped,” he said.

Reuters shipping data showed the Seabed Constructor left Durban, South Africa, on Tuesday and was headed to Perth, Australia, where it is due on Feb. 7.

Malaysia’s deputy transport minister, Aziz Kaprawi, said the government was negotiating final terms of the agreement with Ocean Infinity and he was not aware of the vessel’s movement.

“We are in the final stages of the decision. On our part, we have yet to finalize the agreement,” he told Reuters.

When asked whether Australia and China would be consulted about the contract award, Aziz said: “Basically, Malaysia will make the decision, as this offer was made to the Malaysian government. The cost will also be decided by Malaysia.”

Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off the transponder of the Boeing 777 before diverting it over the Indian Ocean.

Various pieces of debris have been collected from Indian Ocean islands and Africa’s east coast and at least three of them have been confirmed as coming from the missing plane.

($1 = 1.2770 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur, Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Johannesburg; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Air and sea search for Myanmar army plane missing with 120 aboard

By Wa Lone and Shoon Naing

YANGON (Reuters) – Ships and planes were scouring the coast of southern Myanmar on Wednesday after a military aircraft vanished over the Andaman Sea with 120 soldiers, family members and crew on board, the army and civil aviation officials said.

The Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane left the coastal town of Myeik at 1:06 p.m (0636 GMT), heading north to Myanmar’s largest city of Yangon on a regular weekly military flight that stops at several coastal towns along the way, officials said.

The plane lost contact 29 minutes after take-off while flying at 18,000 feet (5,485 meters) over the sea, about 43 miles (70 km) west of the town of Dawei, the military said.

“We don’t know what exactly happened to this plane after the loss of contact,” said Kyaw Kyaw Htey, a civil aviation official at Myeik airport.

Civil aviation authorities initially said there were 105 people onboard. The military later said those on board included 106 soldiers and their family members and 14 crew. The maximum capacity of the aircraft was 200 people, said a military officer.

It is monsoon season in Myanmar, but Kyaw Kyaw Htey said the weather had been “normal” with good visibility when the plane took off.

The military launched a search soon after the plane went missing, mobilizing six navy ships and three military planes, said the army in a news release. The search continued as darkness fell.

Some 300-400 people, including firefighters, medics, emergency and welfare officials, gathered on the shore near the town of Launglon, close to the area where the navy search was concentrated, said Naing Myo Thwin, the chairman of the local funeral association, from the scene.

“We haven’t seen any trace of the plane yet,” Naing Myo Thwin told Reuters by telephone. He doubles as a member of the local hospital’s emergency team.

Aung Win, a local police officer also speaking from the scene by telephone, confirmed that there were a large number of people gathered on the beach. He said because they had not found any trace of the plane they were moving to other areas along the shore.

The aircraft was bought in March 2016 and had a total of 809 flying hours. It was carrying 2.4 tons of supplies, the military said.

Aircraft incidents, both civilian and military, are not uncommon in the Southeast Asian country.

A military helicopter crashed in June last year in central Myanmar, killing three military personnel on board.

Five military personnel were killed last February after an air force aircraft crashed in the country’s capital Naypyitaw, according to media reports.

Two people were killed and 11 injured after a small plane crashed in central Myanmar in 2012.

(Additional reporting by Yimou Lee; Writing by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Robert Birsel and Alex Richardson)

MH370 families launch campaign to fund search for the missing jet

A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which went missing in 2014 reacts during a protest outside the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing, July 29, 2016. The hat reads "Pray for MH370" REUTERS/Thomas Peter

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Families of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on Saturday launched a campaign to privately fund a search for the aircraft.

Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, went missing on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, nearly three years ago, on March 8, 2014.

Australia, Malaysia, and China jointly called off a two-year underwater search for the aircraft in January.

Grace Nathan, a Malaysian lawyer whose mother, Anne Daisy, was on the plane, said the families hope to raise $15 million to fund an initial search north of the previous search area.

“We won’t start fundraising until we’re sure that the governments are not going to resume the search and until the current data has been fully reviewed and analyzed,” she said at the campaign launch and MH370 memorial event held at a mall in Kuala Lumpur.

The three governments have said they will resume the search if any credible evidence on the whereabouts of the plane emerges.

International experts last year assisted Voice 370, a support group for MH370 next-of-kin, in mounting their own search along the East African coast where debris had been discovered.

“They pinpointed to us accurately where the debris would have made landfall. They’ve been very helpful both on a personal level and to the investigation,” Grace said.

The memorial event, the first held since the search was suspended, featured musical and dance performances, while family members and friends of those aboard made impassioned pleas for the search to continue.

Jiang Hui, whose mother was on the plane, recounted his experience discovering a piece of potential MH370 debris in Madagascar last year.

“I thought it was very miraculous and fortunate when I found the piece of debris that day, but I thought it was useless because this sort of searching activity should have been done by the government,” said Jiang, who traveled from China to attend the memorial.

“It should not be us, the family members, who should have been subjected to this pain, to go and face this cruel reality.”

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, who attended the event, said authorities had analyzed 27 pieces of potential MH370 debris along the East African coastline, including two new pieces found in South Africa two weeks ago.

The government has also signed several agreements with countries along the East African coastline to coordinate searches for debris, Liow said.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Richard Pullin)

Underwater search for missing Malaysian flight ends without a trace

Handwritten notes on how a crew member should report the sighting of debris in the southern Indian Ocean is pictured on a window aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370

By Tom Westbrook and Jonathan Barrett

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The deep-sea search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 ended on Tuesday without any trace being found of the plane that vanished in 2014 with 239 people on board, the three countries involved in the search said.

The location of Flight MH370 has become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries since the plane, a Boeing 777, disappeared en route to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

“Despite every effort using the best science available … the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,” Malaysian, Australian and Chinese authorities said in a statement.

“The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness.”

The last search vessel left the area on Tuesday, the three countries said, after scouring the 120,000-sq-km (46,000-sq-mile) area of the Indian Ocean sea floor that has been the focus of the almost-three-year search.

Malaysia, Australia and China agreed in July to suspend the $145 million search if the plane was not found, or if new evidence that might offer a clue as to its whereabouts was not uncovered, once that area had been checked.

Australia last month dismissed an investigators’ recommendation to shift the search further north, saying that no new evidence had emerged to support that.

Since the crash, there have been competing theories over whether one, both or no pilots were in control, whether it was hijacked – or whether all aboard perished and the plane was not controlled at all when it hit the water.

Adding to the mystery, investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off the plane’s transponder before diverting it thousands of miles out over the Indian Ocean.

A next-of-kin support group called Voice 370 said in a statement investigators could not leave the matter unsolved.

“In our view, extending the search to the new area defined by the experts is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety,” Voice 370 said.

Most of the passengers were from China.


A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, asked about the end of the search, said China placed great importance on the search and had actively participated in it alongside Australia and Malaysia. The spokeswoman did not elaborate.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) said the hunt had been “thorough and comprehensive” and it “stands guided by the decision of the three governments to suspend the search”.

“MAS remains hopeful that in the near future, new and significant information will come to light and the aircraft would eventually be located,” it said.

Boeing said it accepted the conclusion of the authorities leading the search.

Malaysia and Australia have contributed the bulk of search financing.

Malaysia holds ultimate responsibility given Malaysia Airlines is registered there. The aircraft is thought to have crashed west of Australia, placing it in its maritime zone of responsibility.

Grace Nathan, whose mother, Anne Daisy, was on the plane said the governments should consider the recommendation to search an additional 25,000 square kilometres.

“If money is a concern, prioritise within this area,” Nathan said.

In China, Jiang Hui, whose mother was also on board the flight, said he felt “disappointed, helpless and angry” because the search had been ended “purely due to a funding shortage”.

“The 370 incident is the most important thing in my life,” he said, referring to the flight number.

The only confirmed traces of the plane have been three pieces of debris found washed up on the island country Mauritius, the French island Reunion and an island off Tanzania.

As many as 30 other pieces of wreckage found there and on beaches in Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa are suspected to have come from the plane.

The engineering group leading the search, Fugro has raised the prospect someone could have glided the aircraft outside of the defined search zone to explain why it has not been found.

A Fugro representative was not immediately available for comment.

Twelve of the 239 on board were crew. According to the flight manifest, 152 passengers were Chinese, 50 Malaysian, seven Indonesian, six Australian, five Indian, four French and three were American.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Jonathan Barrett in SYDNEY. Additional reporting by Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR and Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Malaysia says search for missing MH370 to end in two weeks

Family member of a passenger onboard missing Malaysian flight

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia said on Friday the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will end in two weeks after the search is completed of a 120,000 square kilometer (9,650 sq mile) area where experts thought it went down.

Investigators recommended last month that the search be extended by 25,000 sq km to an area further north in the Indian Ocean, after conceding for the first time they were probably looking in the wrong place. [nL4N1EF02J]

But Malaysia’s transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai, told reporters the search of the 120,000 sq km area would be completed but the hunt would then end in the absence of any “credible clue” suggesting it be extended.

The latest report by the search coordinator, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, was due to be completed in a week or two, he said.

“The search mission will end soon and after that,” Liow was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama.

The report would be made available online, he said, adding:

“Any decision based on the report will be done later.”

Flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board, most of them Chinese, en route to Beijing from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Its whereabouts have become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.

Families of many of those on board have called for the search to continue and to be extended to other areas.

The three countries involved in the search – Malaysia, Australia and China – would meet before Jan. 28 to decide on the next course of action, Liow said.

Australia last month also rejected recommendations to extend the search, citing a lack of “credible evidence”.

A total of 33 pieces of wreckage suspected to be from the plane have been found, including parts of wings and a tail, on the shores of Mauritius, the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Small plane with six aboard vanishes over Lake Erie in Ohio

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Rescue crews searched Lake Erie on Friday for signs of a twin-engine plane carrying six people that went missing on Thursday night soon after taking off from an Ohio airport, officials said.

The 11-seat aircraft dropped off radar just before 11 p.m. local time after leaving Burke Lakefront Airport on the shore of Lake Erie north of downtown Cleveland, U.S. Coast Guard Chief of Response Michael Mullen told a news conference on Friday.

The Cessna Citation 525, bound for Ohio State University Airport, disappeared after flying about two miles over the lake, Mullen said.

John Fleming, 46, the chief executive of Columbus-based beverage distributor Superior Beverage Group, is believed to have been piloting the plane, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

Also on board were Fleming’s wife, their two teenage sons and two of their neighbors, the newspaper reported, citing an interview with Fleming’s father, John W. Fleming.

The group was returning to Columbus after attending the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game against the Boston Celtics, the Dispatch reported.


Mullen said a watercraft search for survivors had been halted on Thursday night due to 12 to 14 foot seas, but it resumed on Friday morning.

Lake Erie is the fourth-largest by surface area of North America’s five Great Lakes, and also the most shallow. It is 210 feet at its deepest point, which makes for rough and unpredictable waters.

“The seas have subsided a little bit,” Mullen said. “We also have better daylight at this particular time and better visibility.”

Coast guard crews searched with boats, a helicopter and fixed-wing plane over a section of Lake Erie that is about 50 feet deep, Mullen said, adding that there were no signs of debris.

He said there was no evidence of an emergency call before communications with the aircraft stopped. He declined to identify the people on board.

The water temperature was around 35 degrees F, according to the National Weather Service.

Asked about the chances of survival considering the water temperature and high seas, Mullen said “it comes down to a person’s will to survive.”

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Additional reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Toni Reinhold)

Malaysia confirms debris found in Tanzania is from MH370

Australian and Malaysian officials examine aircraft debris at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau headquarters in Canberra, Australia, after it was found on Pemba Island, located near Tanzania, in late June.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia said on Thursday that a large piece of aircraft debris discovered on the island of Pemba, off the coast of Tanzania, in June, was from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370.

A search of more than two years has turned up few traces of the Boeing 777 aircraft that disappeared in March 2014, with 239 passengers and crew on board, soon after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, bound for Beijing.

Ministry of Transport Malaysian Senior Accident investigator Aslam Basha Kham inspects a wing suspected to be a part of missing Malaysia Airlines j

Ministry of Transport Malaysian Senior Accident investigator Aslam Basha Kham (C) talks to other officials inspecting a wing suspected to be a part of missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 discovered on the island of Pemba, off the coast of Tanzania, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

The debris, an outboard flap, will be examined further to see if it can yield any insight into the circumstances around the missing plane, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said in a statement.

Investigators have previously confirmed a piece of plane debris found on the French island of Reunion in July 2015 as being part of MH370. They are examining several other pieces of debris found in Mozambique, South Africa and Rodrigues Island, a territory of Mauritius.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Ukrainian Warhead Brought Down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17

The mystery of what brought down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 that killed 298 people has been solved according to the Dutch Safety Board (DSB). The Boeing 777 was heading from Amsterdam to Malaysia when it was shot down by a Russian developed BUK missile on July 17, 2014, over Ukrainian territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

According to the DSB the missile detonated less than a yard away from Flight 17’s cockpit, caused the plane to break up in midair and scatter over a 20-square-mile area over eastern Ukraine.  The Board cannot assign blame for the bombing so who actually fired at the plane has not yet been established.  

The West and Ukraine say Russian-backed rebels brought down the Boeing 777, but Russia blames Ukrainian forces. The safety board’s chairman told the press conference that because of the armed conflict in Ukraine, there would have been “sufficient reason to close the airspace as a precaution” but “the Ukraine authorities failed to do so.”

Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board, said the explosion killed the plane’s three crew members in the cockpit and that investigators had found “high energy fragments” in their bodies. Whatever happened to the plane happened quickly, leaving the passengers dazed or unconscious. And while it’s not clear if anyone died in mid air, no one could have survived the plane’s impact with the ground, the DSB said.

The disaster and its aftermath — when armed men initially prevented international monitors from reaching the crash site and recovering the scattered bodies — shocked the world.

Plane Debris Found on French Island Part of Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced Wednesday a piece of a wing found on a remote French island was part of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you, an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion is indeed from MH370,” Prime Minister Najib Razak said at a brief press conference. “We now have physical evidence that … Flight MH370 tragically ended in the Southern Indian Ocean.”

The flaperon from a Boeing 777 was found on a beach at the town of Saint Andre on Reunion Island.  The island is a French territory.

The wing part had been taken to the DGA TA aeronautical testing site in Toulouse, France for analysis by aviation experts from around the world.  The wing arrived at the facility on Saturday and officials there say the investigators will conduct a microscopic investigation to see if they can determine why the plane went down.

The discovery confirms that the missing plane went down in the Indian Ocean 17 months ago with 239 passengers and crew aboard.

Australian officials who have been conducting an underwater search for plane debris say they will not alter their search parameters despite the confirmation of the wing part belonging to the missing craft.  They stated that heavier portions of the plane such as the engines would have sunk to the ocean floor and not drifted as the lighter wing part had done.

“The burden and uncertainty faced by the families during this time has been unspeakable,” Prime Minister Najib said. “It is my hope that this confirmation, however tragic and painful, will at least bring certainty to the families and loved ones of the 239 people onboard MH370.”

“I promise you this,” he continued, “Malaysia will always remember and honor those who were lost onboard MH370.”

Rescue Agency Admits Air Asia Flight “Likely At Bottom of Sea”

Search and rescue officials were admitting to the press what AirAsia officials have been trying to avoid:  that flight QZ8501 is at the bottom of the sea.

“Based on the co-ordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” Bambang Soelistyo, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency head, told reporters at a news conference in Jakarta.

The plane disappeared on Sunday carrying 162 people.  Officials say that the pilots requested a change in course due to bad weather but then disappeared without a distress call.

A spokesman for the Indonesian air force says that they have spotted an oil slick but they have not confirmed that is the location of the downed plane.

We are very devastated by what’s happened, it’s unbelievable,” AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes said.