Passenger's family sues airline, Boeing

Chinese families clash with police; Bad weather forces suspension of search: Amsa

Malaysian Airlines and Boeing Co are facing a potential lawsuit over the Beijing-bound flight that disappeared more than two weeks ago with 239 people on board, according to a law firm representing passengers' families.

A petition for discovery has been filed against Boeing Co , manufacturer of the aircraft, and Malaysian Airlines , operator of the plane, Chicago-based Ribbeck Law said in a statement on Tuesday.

The petition for discovery, filed in a Cook County, Illinois Circuit Court, is meant to secure evidence of possible design and manufacturing defects that may have contributed to the disaster, the law firm said.

The court filing was not immediately available.

The filing initiates a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the airline and Boeing by the passengers' families, the firm said.

"We believe that both defendants named are responsible for the disaster of Flight MH 370," Monica Kelly, the lead Ribbeck lawyer in the case, said in the statement.

The petition was filed on behalf of Januari Siregar, whose son was on the flight.

Additional pleadings will be filed in the next few days against other potential defendants that designed or manufactured component parts of the aircraft that may have failed, Kelly said.

Ribbeck is also asking that US scientists be included in the search for wreckage and bodies, the firm said.

A spokesman for Boeing declined comment. A spokesman for Malaysian Airlines could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ribbeck is also representing 115 passengers in the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco in July.

The law firm's petition is asking the judge to order Boeing to provide the identity of manufacturers of various plane components, including electric components and wiring, batteries, emergency oxygen and fire alarm systems.

It is also seeking the identity of the company or person who last inspected the fuselage and who provided maintenance.

The petition also asks the judge to order Malaysian Airlines to produce information about crew training for catastrophic incidents, security practices, safety training and crew evaluations.          

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Chinese families clash with police, slam Malaysia over lost plane;

Dozens of angry relatives of passengers on a lost Malaysian jetliner clashed with police in Beijing on Tuesday, accusing the Southeast Asian country of "delays and deception" a day after it confirmed the plane crashed in remote seas off Australia.

About 20 to 30 protesters threw water bottles at the Malaysian embassy and tried to storm the building, demanding to meet the ambassador, witnesses said. Earlier, the relatives, many with tear-stained faces, had linked arms and chanted "Malaysian government has cheated us" and "Malaysia, return our relatives" as they marched peacefully and held banners.

The relatives' grief and anger was unleashed on Monday night after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished more than two weeks ago while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Citing satellite-data analysis by British firm Inmarsat , he said there was now no doubt that the Boeing jet came down in the ocean in one of the most remote places on Earth - an implicit admission that all 239 people on board had died.

Bad weather in the region far off Australia's western coast on Tuesday forced the suspension of the search for any wreckage, just as a series of satellite images and other sightings of floating objects had raised hopes that debris from the plane would be found.

Malaysia's confused initial response to the Boeing  777's disappearance and a perception of poor communications has enraged many relatives of the more than 150 Chinese passengers and strained ties between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur.

After Najib's announcement, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng demanded Malaysia hand over all relevant satellite analysis showing how Malaysia had reached its conclusion about the fate of the jet.

In a separate statement, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China would ask Malaysia to provide more detailed and accurate information on the plane, according to a government microblog account. Chinese President Xi Jinping will send a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur to consult with the Malaysian government, state news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday.

ANGER, GRIEF

A group reportedly representing families issued a statement describing the Malaysian airline, government and military as "executioners" who constantly tried to delay and deceive them.

"We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes and responsibility of all three," said the statement on the microblog of the Malaysia Airlines MH370 Family Committee.

The relatives protesting in Beijing held signs that said: "MH370, Don't let us wait too long!" and "1.3 billion people are waiting to greet the plane". They wore matching T-shirts that said: "Best of luck to MH370, return home safely."

"We've waited for 18 days and still, you make us wait. How long are we supposed to hang on?" a woman surnamed Zhang told Reuters.

The protest ended after a few hours, when police told protesters to get on buses and escorted them away.

Criticism of the Malaysian national carrier mounted after some relatives of those on board first received the news that the search for survivors was over in an SMS from the airline, which said: "We have to assume beyond all reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and none of those on board survived."

At a news conference at Kuala Lumpur's international airport on Tuesday, company officials defended the move, saying the text message had only been sent as a "last resort" to ensure that some relatives did not hear the news first from media.

"This is a time of extraordinary emotions and we fully understand," said Malaysia Airlines Chairman Mohammed Nur Yusof. "In fact, we really feel for the next of kin. In terms of how they react, it's emotional."

Asked whether he would resign over the crisis, the airline's chief executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, said that would be a "personal decision" to be made at a later time.

WRECKAGE COULD HOLD KEY

Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking off on March 8. No confirmed debris from the plane has been found since.

Investigators believe someone on the flight may have shut off the plane's communications systems. Partial military radar tracking showed it turning west and re-crossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.

Recovery of wreckage could unlock clues about why the plane had diverted so far off course. Theories range from a hijacking to sabotage or a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.

As a result of the new satellite analysis, the international search effort has been narrowed to focus solely on the southern end of the possible route - a still massive area of 469,000 sq miles (1.2 million sq km) - Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.

The search site is far from commercial flight paths about 2,500km southwest of Perth, a region of deep, frigid seas known as the Roaring 40s where storm-force winds and huge waves are commonplace.

Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that it would make arrangements to fly relatives to Australia once it had approval from the investigating authorities.

Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said his department was working with the airline and Beijing to facilitate visas. Relatives would be given tourist visas with the usual fees waived, he said.
COSTLY, DIFFICULT INVESTIGATION

Najib's announcement opens the way for what will be one of the most costly and difficult air crash investigations ever. Normally, an official investigation can only begin once a crash site has been identified. That would give Malaysia power to coordinate and sift evidence.

A government source told Reuters that Malaysia would lead the investigation, but hoped other countries, especially Australia, would play a major role.

The United States said it was sending an undersea Navy drone to Australia, in addition to a high-tech black box detector, to help in the search.

But the black box detector would not arrive in the search area until April 5, Hishammuddin said, leaving only a few days to pick up locator beacons from the box that stop about a month after a crash due to limited battery life.

The so-called black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder - record what happens during flight.

Najib said Inmarsat had performed further calculations on data gleaned from faint pings picked up by satellite that initially only narrowed the search area to two massive arcs.

Giving more details on the analysis on Tuesday, Hishammuddin said it showed that at some time after 0011 GMT - about six hours after its last sighting by Malaysian military radar on March 8 - the aircraft was no longer able to communicate with the ground station.

"This is consistent with the maximum endurance of the aircraft," he said.

He said there was evidence of a further "partial handshake" between the satellite and the aircraft 8 minutes later, but that this transmission was not understood and was being analysed.
Reuters
EARLIER REPORT:

Malaysia says evidence of final 'ping' from MH370 at 0019 GMT

Satellite data that confirmed a Malaysian jetliner missing for more than two weeks crashed in the Indian Ocean included a final electronic signal that is still being investigated, Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Tuesday.

"There is evidence of a partial handshake between the aircraft and ground station at 0019 UTC (GMT)," Hishammuddin told a news conference. "At this time, this transmission is not understood and is subject to further ongoing work."

Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Sunday that groundbreaking satellite-data analysis by the British company Inmarsat had revealed that Malaysia Airlines  Flight MH370, which vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, had crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean.

Preliminary analysis of the satellite "pings" had only been able to place the plane's final position in one of two vast arcs stretching from the Caspian Sea to the southern Indian Ocean.  

China to send special envoy to Malaysia

Chinese President Xi Jinping will send a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur to consult with the Malaysian government over the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, state news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday.

Xinhua said Xi "has ordered to send a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur". It did not name the envoy.

In a separate statement, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China will ask Malaysia to provide more detailed and accurate information on the plane, according to a government microblog account.

Li said the most important task at present is to search for the missing plane and he expressed sympathy to the family members.

Beijing seeks satellite data from Britain


China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it hopes Britain will provide satellite data by British firm Inmarsat on the missing Malaysian Airlines plane.

When asked whether China wants Britain to give China the satellite information, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he hoped the "relevant country" could provide it.

EARLIER REPORT: Malaysia Airlines on Monday told relatives of those on board a jet that crashed in the Indian Ocean that they would be brought to the "recovery area", as the search for wreckage goes on.

Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that new satellite data showed Flight MH370 which went missing with 239 people aboard had been lost in the Indian Ocean, ending a 17-day ordeal for families awaiting news of its fate.

Dozens of angry relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner clashed with police outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing on Tuesday as they demanded the airline and the government in Kuala Lumpur explain what happened.

The relatives threw water bottles at police, who had formed a human wall around the embassy gate. Many of the protesters were pushed back, witnesses said. A woman who fainted was carried away on a stretcher.

 

 

Wild weather halted the search Tuesday for wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed into the Indian Ocean, frustrating attempts to determine why it veered off course and bring closure to grieving relatives.

The air and sea mission for MH370 was suspended for the day due to gale force winds, driving rain and huge waves, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority which is coordinating the multinational hunt far southwest of Perth.

It was another body blow for relatives, whose hopes were extinguished Monday when a sombre Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said new analysis of satellite data placed the flight's last position "far from any possible landing sites."

"It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," Najib said.

The plane went missing on March 8 with 239 people aboard -- two thirds of them Chinese -- en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
News that the plane was lost with no survivors touched off deep despair among relatives in both cities who had endured an agonising 17-day wait.

"What can I say? I had the belief that my son would return home safely. But what can be done?" asked Subramaniam Gurusamy, whose 34-year-old son was on board.

"This is fate. We must accept it," he said, his voice choking with emotion.

"We demand the Malaysian side to state the detailed evidence that leads them to this judgement," Xie Hangsheng told Malaysia's Ambassador to China, Iskandar Bin Sarudin, according to a foreign ministry statement.

Najib said Monday's conclusions were  based on new analysis of satellite data by Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch, and the satellite telecommunications firm Inmarsat.

He gave no specifics on where the plane may have been lost, but Inmarsat said it was able to work out which direction it flew by measuring hourly satellite "pings" which bounced from the plane despite its communication systems being switched off.

Multiple debris sightings

Numerous recent sightings of suspected debris, by satellites as well as aircraft  criss-crossing the region, had raised hopes that wreckage would be found on Tuesday.

The Australian naval ship HMAS Success was sent to investigate the latest sighting about 2,500 kilometres (1,562 miles) southwest of Perth and to attempt to recover objects -- a green circular item and an orange rectangular one.

But AMSA said the Success was forced to leave the search area Tuesday until heavy seas abate.

"AMSA has undertaken a risk assessment and determined that the current weather conditions would make any air and sea search activities hazardous and pose a risk to crew," it said.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss warned the weather could remain poor for days and "it may be some time before we can get aircraft back into the search".

He said the operation had now moved into a new phase and Australia would "expect some direction and requests from the Malaysian government in due course about what action they want to be taken from now on."

Efforts to locate wreckage, and the black box and flight data, will be crucial in determining what caused the Boeing 777 to deviate inexplicably off course and fly for hours and thousands of kilometres (miles) in the wrong direction.

Full text of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s statement Monday on the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370:

“This evening I was briefed by representatives from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, or AAIB. They informed me that Inmarsat, the UK company that provided the satellite data which indicated the northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data. Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370’s flight path.

“Based on the new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth. This is a remote location far from any possible landing sites.

“It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

“We will be holding a press conference tomorrow with further details. In the meantime, we wanted to inform you of this new development at the earliest opportunity. We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles which have guided this investigation. 

“Malaysia Airlines have already spoken to the families of the passengers and crew to inform them of this development. For them, the past few weeks have been heart-breaking. I know this news must be harder still. I urge the media to respect their privacy and allow them the space they need at this very difficult time.”

 
A statement on Malaysia Airlines website too confirmed the unfortunate news, dashing hopes of the family members of the 239 passengers and crew members on board the ill-fated flight. The statement reads: 

"Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia’s Prime Minister, new analysis of satellite data suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.

On behalf of all of us at Malaysia Airlines and all Malaysians, our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time.

We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain. We will continue to provide assistance and support to you, as we have done since MH370 first disappeared in the early hours of 8 March, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The ongoing multinational search operation will continue, as we seek answers to the questions which remain. Alongside the search for MH370, there is an intensive investigation, which we hope will also provide answers.

We would like to assure you that Malaysia Airlines will continue to give you our full support throughout the difficult weeks and months ahead.

Once again, we humbly offer our sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy."

Earlier

An Australian navy ship was close to finding possible debris from a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner on Monday as a mounting number of sightings of floating objects raised hopes wreckage of the plane may soon be found.

The HMAS Success should reach two objects spotted by Australian military aircraft by Tuesday morning at the latest, Malaysia's government said, offering the first chance of picking up suspected debris from the plane.

So far, ships in the international search effort have been unable to locate several "suspicious" objects spotted by satellites in grainy images or by fast-flying aircraft over a vast search area in the remote southern Indian Ocean.

"HMAS Success is on scene and is attempting to locate and recover these objects," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who called his Malaysia counterpart Najib Razak to inform him of the sighting, said in a statement to parliament.

The objects, described as a "grey or green circular object" and an "orange rectangular object", were spotted about 2,500 km west of Perth on Monday afternoon, said Abbott, adding that three planes were also en route to the area.

Neither Malaysia nor Australia gave details on the objects' size.

Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people on board on March 8. No confirmed sighting of the plane has been made since and there is no clue what went wrong.

Attention and resources in the search for the Boeing  777 have shifted from an initial focus north of the Equator to an increasingly narrowed stretch of rough sea in the southern Indian Ocean, thousands of miles from the original flight path.

Earlier on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency said a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft spotted two "relatively big" floating objects and several smaller white ones dispersed over several kilometres.

Beijing responded cautiously to the find. "At present, we cannot yet confirm that the floating objects are connected with the missing plane," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news briefing in Beijing.

Australia said that a U.S. Navy plane searching the area on Monday had been unable to locate the objects.

China has diverted its icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, toward the location where the debris was spotted. A flotilla of other Chinese ships are also steadily making their way south. The ships will start to arrive in the area on Tuesday.

Over 150 of the passengers on board the missing plane were Chinese.

The latest sighting followed reports by an Australian crew over the weekend of a floating wooden pallet and strapping belts in an area of the icy southern Indian Ocean that was identified after satellites recorded images of potential debris.

In a further sign the search may be bearing fruit, the U.S.  Navy is flying in its high-tech black box detector to the area.

The so-called black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder - record what happens on board planes in flight. At crash sites, finding the black boxes soon is crucial because the locator beacons they carry fade out after 30 days.

"If debris is found we will be able to respond as quickly as possible since the battery life of the black box's pinger is limited," Commander Chris Budde, U.S. Seventh Fleet Operations Officer, said in an emailed statement.

Budde stressed that bringing in the black box detector, which is towed behind a vessel at slow speeds and can pick up "pings" from a black box to a maximum depth of 20,000 feet, was a precautionary measure.

The Chinese aircraft that spotted the objects was one of two IL-76s searching on Monday. Another eight aircraft, from Australia, the United States and Japan, were scheduled to make flights throughout the day to the search site, some 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth.

"EVERYONE IS QUITE HYPED"

"The flight has been successful in terms of what we were looking for today. We were looking for debris in the water and we sighted a number of objects on the surface and beneath the surface visually as we flew over the top if it," said Flight Lieutenant Josh Williams, on board a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion.

"The first object was rectangular in shape and slightly below the ocean. The second object was circular, also slightly below the ocean. We came across a long cylindrical object that was possibly two meters long, 20 cm across.

"Everyone is quite hyped."

Australia was also analysing French radar images showing potential floating debris that were taken some 850 km (530 miles) north of the current search area.

Australia has used a U.S. satellite image of two floating objects to frame its search area. A Chinese satellite has also spotted an object floating in the ocean there, estimated at 22 metres long (74ft) and 13 metres (43ft) wide.

It could not be determined easily from the blurred images whether the objects were the same as those detected by the Australian and Chinese search planes, but the Chinese photograph could depict a cluster of smaller objects, said a military officer from one of the 26 nations involved in the search.

The wing of a Boeing 777-200ER is approximately 27 metres long and 14 metres wide at its base, according to estimates derived from publicly available scale drawings. Its fuselage is 63.7 metres long by 6.2 metres wide.

NASA said it would use high-resolution cameras aboard satellites and the International Space Station to look for possible crash sites in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. space agency is also examining archived images collected by instruments on its Terra and Aqua environmental satellites.

Investigators believe someone on the flight shut off the plane's communications systems. Partial military radar tracking showed it turning west and re-crossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.

That has led them to focus on hijacking or sabotage, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems. Faint electronic "pings" detected by a commercial satellite suggested it flew for another six hours or so, but could do no better than place its final signal on one of two vast arcs north and south.

While the southern arc is now the main focus of the search, Malaysia says efforts will continue in both corridors until confirmed debris is found.

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