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MH370: Straits Times Web Special takes you behind the scenes of search mission

Published on Apr 10, 2014 1:55 PM

Missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 special report

Straits Times photojournalist Desmond Lim could not have anticipated how arduous the search for MH370 was.

He joined 18 crew members from the Republic of Singapore Airforce's 122 Squadron on March 9, in their 10-hour mission on board the RSAF C-130 aircraft.

"How difficult could it be to spot something in the sea?" Desmond thought to himself as he buckled up, preparing for the take-off from Paya Lebar Air Base to the South China Sea.

Very challenging, as it turned out.

The vastness of the sea combined with the loud droning and constant vibrations from the jet engines made the intense concentration required difficult.

Some servicemen were seen clutching white vomit bags, apparently nauseous from the constant staring at moving objects and the circling of the plane.

Desmond himself felt exhausted. He struggled to keep awake just after 30 minutes when he tried his hand at scanning the seas, too.

Five hours into the mission, some pieces of debris were seen, including one that resembled an orange life jacket. However, the Malaysian authorities would clarify later that the debris was not from MH370.

In the weeks following the disappearance of MH370, numerous countries chipped into the search mission.

At the height, 26 countries, close to 60 ships and some 50 planes were scouring more than 2.24 million square nautical miles - four-fifths the size of the United States - for the missing aircraft.

The full account of Desmond's experience can be found in the Straits Times Web Special, Lost: The Untold Stories of MH370.

Read his acount at