With the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 saga reaching the two-month mark, a CNN journalist said families of the 239 people on board the Boeing 777-200ER were driven more by hope than frustration as they tried to reach closure over the incident.
Australia, China and Malaysia pledged yesterday not to give up searching for flight MH370, which is presumed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean on March 8 on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
David Molko, who has been covering the MH370 saga for more than 50 days in Malaysia and Australia, writing on the CNN website, said there had been countless theories about where the plane might have gone and who might have been flying it.
But the search mission involving some of the most sophisticated equipment available – from Bluefin-21 to Inmarsat satellite data to Ocean Shield – have “almost drowned out what this search is about at its core: solving the mystery of what happened to the 239 men, women, and children who were on board MH370”.
Molko paid tribute to the countless people “who are working tirelessly across borders and time zones, putting their lives on hold with the aim of bringing even the smallest bit of closure to the families of those who have been lost, and to prevent their nightmare from ever happening again”.
While Molko was generous in his praise for the hundreds of service members from China to New Zealand, who had trawled the vast Indian Ocean and flown tirelessly day-after-day over millions of square kilometres, he was scathing about Putrajaya’s response.
“I can't pretend that I understand the pain of Selamat Omar, who lost his 29-year-old son, or Danica Weeks, whose husband Paul disappeared on the way to start a new job in Mongolia,” said Molko on the international broadcaster’s website.
“But as a journalist, I've felt at least a small part of their confusion and frustration. I recall the difficulty in getting a candid response from Malaysian authorities in the early days of the search – the way they sidestepped almost all tough questions during that first week after the plane vanished.”
Molko said he remembered Chinese family members who were brave enough to question Malaysian officials publicly but “were dragged out of the press room in Kuala Lumpur, screaming and crying”.
For him, “thinking about their grief, the expressions on their faces that afternoon, still hits me hard”.
Molko said the last few weeks “have been torture for relatives of passengers who were on MH370”.
He, however, singled out Australian search co-ordinator retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, praising Houston’s “voice of reason and reassurance”.
“Over the past eight weeks, I've witnessed something. It's called hope,” said Molko.
“After all these weeks, it's a feeling that remains strong as ever – the hope and the belief that we may eventually be able to solve this mystery, and that the families of 239 passengers and crew will one day have the answer to a crucial question: Why?”
With the air and surface search now halted, Reuters reported yesterday a new search phase costing around A$60 million (RM180 million) would begin after existing visual and sonar search data had been analysed and a contractor found to lease the sophisticated equipment needed, officials said after meeting in Canberra.
Financial responsibility was a major focus of the talks and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss seemed to open the door to manufacturers, including Boeing, which produced the 777-200ER jet, and engine maker Rolls-Royce, to contribute financially.
Boeing said it was providing technical expertise to the investigation.
Experts have narrowed the search area where the plane is presumed to have crashed to a large arc of the Indian Ocean about 1,600km from the west Australian city of Perth. – May 6, 2014.