The leads from satellite images and other sightings do not indicate there are survivors from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, but "miracles do happen", said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic) today.
"As far as survivors are concerned, that has always been a priority and I have said that over and over again," the acting transport minister said at the daily media briefing in Kuala Lumpur today.
"But the leads we have received either from satellite images or from other sightings did not indicate or show survivors."
However, he said authorities were "hoping against hope" that survivors would be found.
"I have always said, especially to the families, miracles do happen and we are hoping against hope. We continue to hope and pray for survivors," he added.
The search operations for MH370 in the Indian Ocean entered its 31st day today, with 12 aircraft and 14 vessels scouring an area of 234,000 square kilometres in the southern Indian Ocean for clues on its whereabouts.
The Boeing 777 aircraft, with 239 people on board, had veered off its course and was said to have ended its flight in the Indian Ocean.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said that satellite data showed that the plane's path had ended in the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles away from any possible landing site.
The announcement was met with severe criticism after families of the victims claimed the authorities had no proof that the plane went down as no debris or any object linked to the aircraft has been found so far.
Hishammuddin had previously vowed to continue the search for "possible survivors", despite the slim hopes they could be alive.
"The best we can do is pray and be sensitive to them (families), that as long as there is even a remote chance of a survivor, we will pray and do whatever it takes, " he had said.
Today, the minister said the possible pings detected by Chinese and Australian ships in the search area, were the "most promising leads" authorities have ever had.
The investigators, he said, were "cautiously hopeful" that there would be news "within the next few days, if not hours" on whether the pings picked up were consistent with MH370.
"I am more optimistic about this one after talking to Angus," Hishammuddin said, referring to Angus Houston, the Australian retired air chief marshall in charge of the search operation.
"Yet I am very cautious. We have been through a real roller-coaster ride with all the leads we have received so far."
Hishammuddin was also asked to clarify a CNN report, quoting a senior Malaysian government official, who said that MH370 had skirted Indonesian airspace to avoid radar detection.
"No, it is untrue. I have spoken to Indonesia who confirmed it had no sighting of the plane," he added. – April 7, 2014.