Relatives grow frustrated as no trace of jet found

By Satish Cheney

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, March 19 2014 6:44 a.m. MDT

This graphic released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Tuesday, March 18, 2014 shows an area, left bottom, in the southern Indian Ocean that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is concentrating its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on. Manager of AMSA response division John Young has identified their search will cover a massive 600,000-square kilometers (232,000-square miles) area, saying it will take weeks to search thoroughly.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysian airliner grew increasingly frustrated Wednesday over the search's lack of progress as planes sweeping across vast expanses of the Indian Ocean and satellites peering on Central Asia turned up no new clues in the hunt.

Malaysian authorities examined new radar data from Thailand that could potentially give clues on how to retrace the course of the plane that vanished early March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Twenty-six countries are looking for the aircraft as relatives anxiously await news.

"It's really too much. I don't know why it is taking so long for so many people to find the plane. It's 12 days," Subaramaniam Gurusamy, 60, said in an interview from his home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. His 34-year-old son Pushpanathan Subramaniam was on the flight heading to Beijing for a work trip.

"He's the one son I have," Subaramaniam said.

Two Chinese relatives of passengers held up a banner and started shouting at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur's airport where officials were set to hold a briefing on the search. Police escorted them from the venue.

Investigators have identified two giant arcs of territory spanning the possible positions of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 about 7½ hours after takeoff, based on its last faint signal to a satellite. Cmdr. William Marks, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, said finding the plane was like trying to locate a few people somewhere between New York and California.

Aircraft from Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand on Wednesday scoured a search area stretching across 305,000 square kilometers (117,000 square miles) of the Indian Ocean, about 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) southwest of Perth, on Australia's west coast.

Merchant ships were also asked to look for any trace of the plane. Nothing has been found, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

China has said it was reviewing radar data and deployed 21 satellites to search the northern corridor of the search area stretching as far as Kazakhstan. Those searches so far have turned up no trace of the plane, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Wednesday.

Early in the search, Malaysian officials said they suspected the plane backtracked toward the Strait of Malacca, off western Malaysia. But it took a week for them to confirm Malaysian military radar data suggesting that route.

Thai military officials said Tuesday their own radar showed an unidentified plane, possibly Flight 370, flying toward the strait minutes after the Malaysian jet's transponder signal was lost. Air force spokesman Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn said the Thai military doesn't know whether the plane it detected was Flight 370.

Investigators now will be checking previous Malaysian military radar data against the Thai data to see if they can confirm locations for the plane and possibly a direction it was heading in order to narrow the search area, aviation safety experts said.

The two sets of data have to be "overlayed" to confirm that the hits, or targets, are recording the same plane or that it is indeed a plane and not a flock of birds or even a rainstorm. To do that, investigators need to determine that both radars were looking at the same place in the sky at exactly the same time down to the second.

Because the plane's transponder had been turned off, the hits don't contain identification, location or altitude. Both radars were recording what's known as a primary return — essentially a radar signal bouncing of an object in the sky and returning.

"All you see is a little dot moving across the screen," said Rory Kay, a U.S. airline training captain and former Air Line Pilots Association safety committee chairman.

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