The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may be forced to re-investigate the possibility that the passenger jet with 239 on board landed, according to new reports.
The New Strait Times has quoted sources close to the probe that the investigation teams are considering revisiting the possibility that the plane did not crash into the ocean and had landed safely at an unknown location.
“The thought of it landing somewhere else is not impossible, as we have not found a single debris that could be linked to MH370. However, the possibility of a specific country hiding the plane when more than 20 nations are searching for it, seems absurd,” the sources told the NST.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he has received “no advice whatsoever” to indicate the plane has landed.
“Our expert advice is that the aircraft went down somewhere in the Indian Ocean, we have identified a probable impact zone, which is about 700km long, about 80km wide,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra.
The latest development comes as the multinational team searching for MH370 and its 239 passengers and crew widens the hunt using more capable underwater vehicles.
Yesterday, the Bluefin-21 completed its ninth mission scouring the seabed with three more dives expected to wind up the survey of the most likely location of MH370.
However, no contacts of interest have been found so far.
Relatives of flight MH370 passengers have denounced the Malaysian government’s suggestion that it would soon look into issuing death certificates for those on board despite no proof yet of what happened to the plane.
The statement, issued in response to a weekend briefing that Malaysian officials gave to families in Kuala Lumpur, also called for a review of satellite data that Malaysia says indicates the plane likely crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean.
“We, the families of MH370, believe that until they have conclusive proof that the plane crashed with no survivors, they have no right to attempt to settle this case with the issuance of death certificates and final payoffs,” said the statement by the “United Families of MH370”.
In Sunday’s briefing, a Malaysian official said the government would look into a timetable for issuing death certificates for passengers on the Malaysia Airlines flight, which are required for families to seek insurance payments, settle debts and address a range of other issues.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainudin also asked relatives in the meeting to submit a proposal for government financial assistance for families as the MH370 search wears on.
But relatives, who have repeatedly accused the government and national airline of botching a response to the plane’s disappearance and withholding information, said Malaysian authorities were playing an agonising “cat and mouse game” over the fate of their loved ones.
“WE ARE IN UTTER OUTRAGE, DESPAIR AND SHOCK!” the statement said, using bold caps.
Malaysian officials could not immediately be reached to comment. The government and airline deny they are hiding anything.
The Boeing 777 went missing March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard.
Malaysia says satellite data indicates the plane crashed in the remote Indian Ocean but no proof has been found despite an intensive multi-nation sea search.
Demanding hard evidence, some vocal relatives have repeatedly said they were unconvinced by Malaysia’s conclusions on the data analysis, performed by British satellite communications firm Inmarsat.
“They have failed to share why they would accept a single source (Inmarsat) for analysis utilising a never before attempted method, as their sole grounds for determining that the plane is under the water and all lives lost,” the families said.
The statement said they requested an independent peer review, but the suggestion was rejected on grounds Inmarsat’s data was under privacy protections.
In the Sunday meeting, “not a single one of our questions was answered,” it added.
A public opinion poll published last week found that more than half of Malaysians believe their scandal-prone government — which has controlled the country for 57 years — is hiding the full truth on MH370.