Anger as MH370 families say no new findings in investigation report that highlights mistakes

A daughter (left) of a missing MH370 passenger at the press conference in Putrajaya on July 30, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A woman walks past a MH370 mural in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, on July 29, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PUTRAJAYA (REUTERS, AFP) - Families of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 said on Monday (July 30) that an investigation report released to them had no new findings on the reason for the plane's mysterious disappearance.

The report however highlighted mistakes and protocols and guidelines that were not followed, the families told reporters after a briefing on the report.

"We hope that these mistakes will not be repeated and that measures are put in place to prevent them in the future," said Grace Nathan, a lawyer whose mother, Anne Daisy, was on the plane.

"The one point they stressed was that this report was not to assign blame, it was only a safety investigation," she said, adding that the investigators were limited in their effort, as it was based on information supplied to them.

The report comes two months after Malaysia called off a privately funded underwater search for the aircraft.

The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished in March 2014 with 239 people - mostly from China - on board, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No sign of it was found in a 120,000-square kilometre Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led hunt, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January last year.

US exploration firm Ocean Infinity resumed the hunt at the start of this year on a "no find, no fee" basis, using high-tech drones to scour the seabed. But that search was called off after failing to find anything.

Malaysia's new government, which took power in May, has pledged total transparency and says the final report by the official safety investigation team - a 19-member body which includes international investigators - will be released unedited.

Voice 370, a group representing the relatives, has previously urged the Malaysian government for a review of the flight, including "any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance".

The families said the report pointed to mistakes by the Malaysian air traffic control (ATC) centre. It showed there were only two attempted phone calls made to the aircraft from the ground, four to five hours apart.

The investigators could not provide adequate answers as to why no other calls were made after the jetliner went off the radar, Grace added.

Investigators looking into why the Boeing 777 veered thousands of miles off its scheduled route before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370's transponder before diverting it over the Indian Ocean.

Earlier on Monday. Ms Nurlaila Ngah, whose husband Wan Swaid Wan Ismail was an MH370 crew member, said she was hoping for a "solid answer" about what happened that could give relatives some closure.

The next-of-kin of a MH370 passengers reads the report. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

"In the airline industry, tragedies happen, but there are clues as to what could have happened," she told AFP. "It makes no sense if they (the investigators) say there are no hints as to what could have happened."

But Mr Calvin Shim, whose wife was a stewardess on the flight, was sceptical the report would tell families anything new after more than four years of fruitless searching.

"I do not expect any fresh revelations from this report," he said. "The black box has not been found. The plane wreckage has not been found."

He said, however, he hoped the government would try to find new clues and consider resuming the search.

Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon.

There have been a host of theories about why the plane disappeared, ranging from an accident to a hijacking or even a terror plot.

Newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said Malaysia will consider resuming the search for MH370 only if new clues come to light.

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