Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 update: Families of Chinese passengers protest at Malaysian embassy

British satellite company Inmarsat explains its findings, and the search resumes after storms suspended efforts


Sarah Gray
March 25, 2014 4:35PM (UTC)

Yesterday, March 24, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 "ended" in the Indian Ocean, halting the hopes of friends and family that their loved ones would be found. Prior to the announcement, which was made at around 10:00 p.m. in Malaysia (10:00 a.m. Eastern Time), families in Kuala Lumpur were gathered in a hotel and briefed. For the families who were in Beijing, it has been reported that most received the news via text message or from the prime minister's televised remarks.

It has been 18 days since the plane went missing on March 8 -- failing to land in Beijing -- and the grief-stricken families of passengers are displaying their frustration with the long and often confusing search. Dozens of relatives protested outside of the Malaysian Embassy, throwing water bottles and demanding to speak to the ambassador, Reuters reported. A video from the Guardian shows relatives clashing with police, carrying signs and marching.

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The Washington Post reported that relatives suspect that Chinese government officials, in plainclothes, were intermingled with the protesters. According to the Post the plainclothes officials' "mission seemed to be not only guiding the protest but also keeping it from spiraling out of control." They provided the families with signs and printed T-shirts and corralled them onto a bus and lectured them on how to protest in an orderly fashion.

Yesterday, some of the families of Chinese MH370 passengers released a statement calling the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines "executioners."

According to a statement from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, "A visual search will resume tomorrow when the weather is expected to improve after gale force winds and heavy swells resulted in the suspension of the search operation on Tuesday." A total of six countries are now helping in the search: Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, the United States and the Republic of Korea. India has also offered to join in the search. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said that seven military aircraft and five civilian aircraft are being used in the search. The HMAS Success ship will continue to search the area and will be joined by four Chinese ships.

Inmarsat, the British satellite company whose data confirmed that the plane went into the Indian Ocean west of Perth, Australia (rather than north to Pakistan as some had suggested), is explaining their calculations. According to a release from the Ministry of Transport Malaysia:

"If the ground station has not heard from an aircraft for an hour it will transmit a 'log on / log off' message, sometimes referred to as a ‘ping’, using the aircraft’s unique identifier. If the aircraft receives its unique identifier it returns a short message indicating that it is still logged on. This process has been described as a “handshake” and takes place automatically.

From the ground station log it was established that after ACARS stopped sending messages, 6 complete handshakes took place."

Inmarsat's Chris McLaughlin, senior vice president of external affairs, explains in the video below from the Telegraph:

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h/t The Guardian


Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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China Malaysia Malaysia Airlines Flight Mh370 Missing Plane Protests Video

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