On Monday, March 24 Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak made a statement saying that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 "ended" in the southern Indian Ocean. Though debris from the flight has not been recovered, Mr. Najib's statement concluded speculation that the flight had landed elsewhere, and officially narrowed the search to the southern Indian Ocean, where Australian, French and Chinese satellite images showed objects in the water.
With this development, the question is what are the next steps for recovery?
Prior to the announcement in Kuala Lumpur, families of those lost who were in Malaysia were gathered in a hotel and briefed. For the families of the 154 Chinese passengers, there are conflicting reports of how they received the news. The Telegraph's Malcolm Moore reports that the news came to some via text message, others heard the news from the Prime Minister's announcement -- both announcements made in English, not Chinese.
Malaysian Airlines, however, released a statement saying they told the majority of families in person. "And it is in that spirit that we informed the majority of the families in advance of the Prime Minister’s statement in person and by telephone," the statement from Malaysia Airlines read. "SMSs were used only as an additional means of communicating with the families."
According to Malcolm Moore, who is reporting from Beijing, the families of the 154 Chinese passengers (who made up2/3 of the plane) are outraged. In a statement they blamed the Malaysian government, Malaysian military and Malaysian Airlines. Moore tweeted:
The search in the southern Indian Ocean ramped up on Thursday, March 20 after Australia released satellite images of two objects that could have been debris. Australia has taken the reins in terms of search for the plane. But Australia is not alone, Japan, China, the United States and New Zealand all have planes or ships in the area. From The Guardian:
"At the request of the Malaysian government, Australia has been overseeing the search for debris in the southerly search sector, from a military base near Perth. It has deployed four military planes, four civilian jets and two navy vessels. China has dispatched seven ships, including three warships and an ice-breaker, along with two military aircraft. Japan has sent two P3 Orion planes, New Zealand one, and the US is using an elite P8 Poseidon navy aircraft."
The U.S. is also also sending a black box locater, and if the wreckage site is located they are also sending a Bluefin-21 robotic submarine. The Bluefin has a 25 hour endurance and can go a max of 14,700 feet, according to The Guardian.
The New York Times is reporting that the fuselage and other heavy parts may have sunk, and according to The Guardian the search team will use sonar and the equivalent of unmanned drone planes, automatic underwater vehicles (UAVs) and other special systems to scan the bottom of the sea. The search area is west of Perth, Australia. The ultimate goal to solving what happened to the plane would be to find the fuselage and the black box. The black box would have recorded what happened in the cockpit and the fuselage could determine if there had been any sort of explosion. Finding floating debris will confirm that the plane did hit the ocean.
The British firm Inmarsat, who tracked the plane's final "pings," used a new technique to determine that the missing Boeing 777 had in fact flown south. Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has been missing since March 8, 2014. It failed to arrive in Beijing after leaving Kuala Lumpur early in the morning. There were 227 passengers on board along with 12 crew members; the Malaysian government does not believe there were any survivors.
Meanwhile on the ground the Malaysian defense minister and acting transportation minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, has said that they have interviewed more than 100 people -- including the families of both pilots. A committee is determining whether or not to make the transcriptions of these interviews public.