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Ten days after flight MH370, disappeared seemingly without a trace, the military in Thailand announced they saw radar blips that may have been from the jetliner, however they did not report it because “we did not pay attention to it” they said.
Search crews from 26 countries, including Thailand are looking for the plane that vanished on its flight from KL to Beijing on March 8th. The relatives of the 239 people on board are growing more frustrated each day with the lack of progress being made by the search.
In the beginning Malaysian officials suspected that the plane backtracked towards the Strait of Malacca, but even that information took a week to confirm from the Malaysian military radar.
Thailand’s failure to quickly share possible information about the plane may not substantially change what Malaysian officials now know, but it raises questions about the degree to which some countries are sharing their defense data. At a minimum, safety experts said, the radar data could have saved time and effort that was initially spent searching the South China Sea, many miles from the Indian Ocean.
“It’s tough to tell, but that is a material fact that I think would have mattered,” said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.
“It’s just bizarre they didn’t come forward before,” Scott Hamilton, managing director of aviation consultancy Leeham Co., said of Thai authorities. “It may be too late to help the search … but maybe them and the Malaysian military should do joint military exercises in incompetence.”
The latest press statement from Malaysian Airlines published on the 19th of March reads –
The passengers and crew on-board flight MH370, their families and loved ones, have been at the centre of every action Malaysia Airlines has taken as a Company since we first learned the flight disappeared.
The Malaysian Government is coordinating an unprecedented international search effort covering 2.24 million square nautical miles. With this simply enormous area we cannot determine how long it will take to locate the aircraft.
Considering these challenges, our caregivers have informed the family members of the missing passengers and crew that we have taken the decision to continue to provide information and assistance through the further enhanced Family Support Centre (FSC) based in Kuala Lumpur which has been operational since 8 March 2014 rather than the various Family Assistance Centers (FACs).
The Family Support Centre will continue to proactively provide relatives waiting for news at home with daily updates. In addition to personal phone calls, Malaysia Airlines will now send out SMS blasts with brief updates to the families. We have also set up an email address for family members as a channel for them to communicate with us. Updates via the Malaysia Airlines website are also available.
This Family Support Centre will be open round-the-clock and will house family support representatives trained to assist those who are seeking answers and further information. The representatives will be divided into four shifts with ten staff handling each shift. This will ensure that someone is available to attend to the families at all times. The centre will also have Mandarin speaking personnel.
Below are the toll-free numbers that has been set-up for eight different countries. A back-up number is also given to the families in the event they are not able to reach the toll-free number. The number to call to get in touch with this centre is +603 8777 5770.
Countries Toll-free number
China 10-800-130-1364 (South China) / 10-800-713-1404 (North China)
New Zealand 080-045-4029
All this while, the families have always been briefed first, followed by the media and then the public whenever new information surfaces. However, the often conflicting information and wild speculation have caused a major distress to the families.
The Airline continues to work closely with the authorities and we appreciate the help we are receiving from all local and international agencies during this critical and traumatic period.
Our top priority remains to provide any and all assistance to the families of the passengers and crew.