Chinese military aircraft go home
12.40pm: Two Chinese military aircraft that had helped to search for a missing Malaysian airliner in the southern Indian Ocean flew back to China today from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang, reports Bernama.
The IL-76s aircraft of the People's Liberation Army, with 38 crew and military personnel, had conducted the search off the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Pearce in Perth.
The planes departed Subang at 8am and 8.30am after having flown in to the RMAF base from Australia at 2.45pm yesterday for refuelling and an overnight rest for the crew and military personnel.
The Chinese search team, led by senior colonel Liu Dian Jun, returned after it was announced last Monday that the multinational deepwater search for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight, MH370, had entered a new phase.
IGP: Arrested terrorist suspects not linked
11.25am: Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar has denied reports that 11 suspected militants arrested last week had been interrogated regarding MH370’s disappearance, The Star reports.
“That's rubbish! This has nothing to do with the plane,” he said.
He was asked to reports on British tabloids yesterday claiming that the militants are linked to the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation and have been questioned about the missing airliner.
The group is suspected to be planning to send Malaysian fighters to the civil war in Damascus, Syria and recruiting suicide bombers .
11am: To recap, it has been 58 days since MH370 disappeared with hardly a trace, and the search appears to be winding down for the next phase of more intensive underwater searches.
Since April 28, surface search efforts has been called off since it is deemed to be highly unlikely yield any findings. Any debris on the ocean surface is believe to have become waterlogged and sunk by then.
The Australian vessel ADV Ocean Shield is steaming towards a naval base near Perth since May 2 to replenish supplies and personnel after facilitating 18 mission searching in the deep. It is still more than a day’s journey away from its destination.
The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) says once the port visit is complete, it and the US Navy-supplied Bluefin-21 underwater drone carried on-board will resume searching the South Indian Ocean floor for signs of wreckage using its side-scan sonar.
The JACC’s chief coordinator Angus Houston says he remains hopeful that underwater drone can find MH370, although that hope has diminished since the underwater search began.
The Bangladeshi Navy is also searching the Bay of Bengal based on information from the exploration company GeoResonance, but has found nothing so far. The JACC considers the tip-off to be unreliable.
Meanwhile, Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein tweeted this morning that he is now in Sydney for the meetings in the Australian capital of Canberra tomorrow.
He is slated to meet Australian and Chinese ministers and officials at the meeting, which is slated to formalise future search and recovery efforts for MH370, including more assets for underwater searches.
The past week also saw the release of the preliminary report of the MH370 incident and other related documents, such as maps, radio voice recordings, and cargo manifests.
Crucially, it revealed a 17-minute delay before Ho Chi Minh air traffic controllers began inquiring on MH370’s status, and a delay of about four-hours before rescue coordination centres (RCC) are alerted.
Department of Civil Aviation director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said protocols dictate that Ho Chi Minh should started making inquiries in five minutes, while International Civil Aviation Organisation protocols say that RCCs are to be alerted in 30 minutes.
The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200ER aircraft went missing not long after taking off from KL International Airport in the early hours of March 8, with 12 crew members and 227 passengers.
Authorities have determined that the plane intentionally turned back and altered its course shortly after cutting communications with tower controllers for unknown reasons and, based on satellite data, have estimated its last position to be in the south Indian Ocean.
Australia leads the search in the south Indian Ocean. As of March 30, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) is tasked with overseeing the operations, led by retired air marshal and former defence chief Angus Houston.
The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Bluefin-21 was deployed on April 14 to conduct an undersea search where the Australia Defence Vessel Ocean Shield had picked up two pings similar that of black boxes on April 5 and two more on April 8 but failed to reacquire them again with the pinger locator.
However, after 52 days with no sign of the wreckage, authorities have announced that the search will move to its next phase, which will focus on a larger and deeper area of the sea floor, while the aerial search will cease as it is highly unlikely any floating debris will be found at this stage.