January 30, 2015
Disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 officially declared ‘an accident’.
On March 8th 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, a Boeing 777 carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared without trace, though believed to have been somewhere over the Indian Ocean. In a pre-recorded statement aired on national TV on Wednesday this week, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman announced that it was “with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that we officially declare Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident.” He continued, “All 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives.”
Relations between the Malaysian airline and the victims’ families, the majority if which are Chinese, are strained and the fact that none of them were informed in advance of this statement being made caused a certain degree of offense. Many are also upset that the Malaysian Government has decided the fate of their family members despite a lack of any evidence as to what happened.
There is also a potential standoff lurking regarding compensation. The announcement by Rahman has now paved the way for compensation claims to be processed and China’s Foreign Ministry have already urged the airline to sort out payments to passengers’ families. “We call on the Malaysian side to honour the promise made when they declared the flight to have been lost and earnestly fulfil their compensation responsibilities,” Hua Chunying added in an official statement. However, many of the relatives have opted not to sign any documentation instigating compensation as they fear that in doing so, the search for flight MH370 will cease. Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai has been quick to say that the governments of Malaysia, China and Australia are still firmly committed to the continued search.
There are currently four vessels searching the seafloor with state-of-the-art sonar technology in a remote section of the Indian Ocean where the flight is believed to have come down. Analysis of satellite and aircraft performance data hints at the plane lying in seas far to the west of the Australian city Perth. The DCA is aiming to release an interim report regarding the crash investigation on March 7th.