KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian authorities on Wednesday denied their efforts to find a missing passenger jet were now mired in “chaos” as they justified their decision to enlarge the search area to hundreds of kilometres away from its flight path.At a combative news conference on the fifth day of the vast hunt, Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said they would “never give up hope” of finding Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and its 239 passengers and crew.
Asked whether the search had now collapsed into confusion, he said: “I don’t think so. It’s far from it. It’s only confusion if you want it to be seen as confusion.
“I think it’s not a matter of chaos. There are a lot of speculations that we have answered in the last few days.”
Air Force chief Rodzali Daud said authorities were investigating an unidentified flying object about 320 kilometres northwest of the Malaysian state of Penang around the time the plane vanished early Saturday.
That is hundreds of kilometres to the west of the plane’s planned Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing flight path.
Authorities have said radar data records indicated the “possibility” that the plane may have attempted to “turn back” to Kuala Lumpur shortly before its disappearance, but have not revealed the specifics of the data.
“The last plot happened at 0215 (am)… 200 miles northwest of Penang. We are corroborating this. We are not saying this is MH370. It’s an unidentified plot,” Rodzali said.
But the officials admitted they still did not know where the plane was despite repeatedly expanding the search area.
The hunt involving the navies and air forces of multiple nations had focused on Vietnam’s South China Sea coast where the plane last made contact Saturday.
Malaysian authorities have expanded the search to the Andaman Sea north of Indonesia, hundreds of kilometres away, fuelling allegations that the response is in disarray and lacking coordination.
Officials have enraged passengers’ relatives and sparked international ridicule for a series of contradictory and vague statements regarding the plane’s possible fate and circumstances surrounding its disappearance.
“We are still doing search-and-rescue operations and we still have hope,” said civil aviation director Azharuddin Abdul Rahman.
“Chances of survival depend also on a lot of criteria because we don’t know where the aircraft is.” – AFP.