Missing MH370: Disclosures raise new questions

Missing MH370: Disclosures raise new questions
President French Aviation Accident Investigation Bureau Jean-Paul Troadec (left), Malaysian Minister of Defence and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (centre) and Coordination Centre (JACC) Chief coordinator Angus Houston (right).

KUALA LUMPUR - The Transport Ministry yesterday released previously classified information on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, including the cargo manifest and audio recordings between the cockpit and Kuala Lumpur air traffic control (ATC).

The release includes the preliminary report into MH370, dated April 9; an additional document on the actions taken directly after the plane went missing on March 8; a map showing the aircraft's flight path, and the passenger seating plan.

(The full release can be accessed at www.nst.com.my.)

In a statement, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the data was compiled by an internal team of experts appointed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last week, and was released following the conclusion of the team's review.

"The prime minister has set, as a guiding principle, the rule that as long as the release of a particular piece of information does not hamper the investigation or the search operation, in the interests of openness and transparency, the information should be made public."

New disclosures include a detailed timeline document of the actions taken on March 8 between 1.38am, after the aircraft made its final contact with ATC, and 6.14am, shortly after search-and- rescue (SAR) operations were activated.

While much of the information confirms previous accounts of the flight's disappearance, the document also captured the confusion among those tracking the flight and raises new questions over whether SAR operations could have been activated sooner.

The document showed a series of exchanges beginning at 1.38am when Ho Chi Minh City ATC (HCM-ATC) in Vietnam queried Kuala Lumpur ATC (KL-ATC) on the whereabouts of MH370.

Over the next three hours, KL-ATC contacted Malaysia Airlines Operations Centre (MAS OPS), Singapore ATC, Hong Kong ATC and Phnom Penh-ATC to establish MH370's location.

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