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The last words from the cockpit of the missing Malaysian airliner were a standard "Good night Malaysian three seven zero", Malaysian authorities said, changing their account of the critical last communication from a more casual "All right, good night."
The correction almost four weeks after Flight MH370 vanished was made as Malaysian authorities face heavy criticism, particularly from China, for mismanaging the search and holding back information.
Painstaking analysis of radar data and limited satellite information has focused the search on a vast, inhospitable swathe of the southern Indian Ocean west of the Australian city of Perth, but has so far failed to spot any sign of it.
"Good night Malaysian three seven zero" would be a more formal, standard sign-off from the cockpit of the Boeing 777, which was just leaving Malaysia-controlled air space on its route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Malaysia says the plane was likely diverted deliberately, probably by a skilled aviator, leading to speculation of involvement by one or more of the pilots. Investigators, however, have determined no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or the 12 crew.
"We would like to confirm that the last conversation in the transcript between the air traffic controller and the cockpit is at 0119 (Malaysian Time) and is "Good night Malaysian three seven zero," the Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement late on Monday.
Minutes later its communications were cut off and it turned back across Malaysia and headed toward the Indian Ocean.
Malaysia's ambassador to China told Chinese families in Beijing as early as March 12, four days after the flight went missing, that the last words had been "All right, good night".
The statement said authorities were still conducting "forensic investigation" to determine whether the last words from the cockpit were by the pilot or the co-pilot. Previously, Malaysia Airlines has said that the words were believed to have come from the co-pilot.
March 31, 2014
Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak will visit Australia to witness the race-against-time bid to locate a crash site for flight MH370, his government said on Monday as a ship equipped to pinpoint its "black box" prepared to steam to the search area.
Ships and planes from seven nations scanned a vast zone far off western Australia for yet another day, but the hunt for debris that would prove the Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in the Indian Ocean more than three weeks ago turned up nothing.
"The prime minister, who is going to Perth on Wednesday, will be briefed fully on how things have been conducted, and probably will be discussing what are the chances ahead," Malaysian Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
Experts warn debris must be found within days to nail down a crash site in order for any use of the US-supplied black box detector -- known as a towed pinger locator (TPL) -- to be feasible.
The US Navy, which has supplied the detection device, said in a statement on Monday: "Without confirmation of debris it will be virtually impossible to effectively employ the TPL since the range on the black-box pinger is only about a mile."
But Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said earlier in the day no time limit would be imposed on the search for clues as to what happened.
'We owe it to the world'
"We owe it to the families, we owe it to everyone that travels by air, we owe it to the anxious governments of the countries who had people on that aircraft. We owe it to the wider world which has been transfixed by this mystery for three weeks now," Abbott said in Perth.
The Boeing 777 carrying 239 people vanished without a trace on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, leaving stunned relatives, the aviation industry, and ordinary travellers around the world hanging on the mystery.
Families of Chinese passengers have angrily attacked Malaysia, alleging incompetence and deceit in what even Malaysian officials call the "unprecedented" loss of a jumbo jet.
More than a dozen Chinese relatives -- part of a group of nearly 30 who arrived on the weekend to press for answers -- kept up the pressure after a prayer session Monday at a Kuala Lumpur Buddhist temple.
"We will never forgive those who hurt our families and don't tell the truth and delay the rescue mission," a spokesman for the group, Jiang Hui, told reporters, reiterating suspicions toward Malaysia voiced by many relatives of the 153 Chinese aboard.
The Australian vessel Ocean Shield, fitted with the pinger locator and an underwater drone designed to home in on the black box's signal, was to conduct sea trials off Perth on Monday before heading to the search area.
A black box signal usually lasts only about 30 days. Fears are mounting that time will run out -- Ocean Shield will not reach the search zone, now the size of Norway, until Thursday, Hishammuddin said, roughly 26 days after the plane went missing.
If floating MH370 debris is found, authorities plan to analyse recent weather patterns and ocean currents to determine where the plane went down.
Malaysia believes MH370 was deliberately diverted by someone on board and that satellite data indicates it crashed in the remote Indian Ocean.
Monday's search saw ten planes take to the skies, with ten ships already at sea. Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Korea and the US are taking part.
Malaysia remains officially in charge, but Australia has assumed increasing responsibility, appointing retired air chief marshal Angus Houston to head a new coordination centre in Perth.
Many Chinese relatives, still holding out slim hopes, have taken issue with Najib's March 24 announcement that the plane was lost at sea, despite the lack of firm evidence.
Malaysian response 'clumsy'
Hishammuddin said "high-level" Malaysian officials and experts involved in an investigation into MH370 would brief families simultaneously in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing "soon" in a bid to explain Malaysia's stance.
Malaysia insists it is being transparent, but is yet to release any details of its investigation into what happened, which has included probing the backgrounds of everyone on the flight, including its crew.
In testy exchanges with foreign journalists Monday, Hishammuddin said: "We are not hiding anything, we are just following the procedure that has been set."
Malaysia also has come under fire from China's state media, while Beijing has pressed for more transparency in the investigation. Authorities there allowed angry relatives to stage a rare protest last week at Malaysia's embassy.
But a commentary in the government-controlled China Daily struck a more measured tone Monday, urging relatives to accept their losses.
"Although the Malaysian government's handling of the crisis has been quite clumsy, we need to understand this is perhaps the most bizarre incident in Asian civil aviation history," it said.
Families being prepared to accept... NO survivors
Commentary in China's state-run media is urging people to react "rationally" to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, after days of protests by passengers' relatives who say Malaysia has mishandled the incident.
Many Chinese family members of passengers have expressed extreme skepticism over accounts by the Malaysian government. They maintain Malaysian officials are not telling all they know about the plane's disappearance March 8 and have expressed frustration that they concluded it went down in the Indian Ocean without any physical evidence.
The commentary in the China Daily says "we should not let anger prevail over facts and rationality."
"No matter how distressed we are ... it is certain that flight MH370 crashed in the Indian Ocean and no one on board survived," the comments say.
All evidence points to 'lost'
All evidence points to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 being lost in the remote Indian Ocean, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday, backing his Malaysian counterpart's view that the plane crashed.
The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished on March 8 carrying 239 passengers and crew, but more than three weeks later no wreckage has been found.
Many relatives of those on board have been incensed at the announcement on March 24 by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak that -- based on detailed analysis of satellite data -- the plane could be presumed lost at sea.
But Abbott said he agreed with Najib's conclusions.
"The accumulation of evidence is that the aircraft has been lost and it has been lost somewhere in the south of the Indian Ocean," he told reporters at the Perth military base coordinating the search.
"That's the absolutely overwhelming wave of evidence and I think that Prime Minister Najib Razak was perfectly entitled to come to that conclusion, and I think once that conclusion had been arrived at, it was his duty to make that conclusion public."
Australia is coordinating the international hunt for the missing Boeing 777, which involves about 100 personnel searching from onboard surveillance aircraft and 1,000 sailors in ships in or near the search zone.
"This is an extraordinarly difficult exercise. We are searching a vast area of ocean and we are working on quite limited information," Abbott said.
"Nevertheless, the best brains in the world are applying themselves to this task, all of the technological mastery that we have is being applied and brought to bear here. If this mystery is solvable, we will solve it. But I don't want to underestimate just how difficult it is."
Search will go on
The Australian leader refused to put a time limit on the search, saying: "We can keep searching for quite some time to come. The intensity of our search and the magnitude of our search is increasing, not decreasing."
"We owe it to the families, we owe it to everyone that travels by air, we owe it to the governments of the countries who had citizens on that aircraft, we owe it to the wider world which has been transfixed by this mystery for three weeks now," he said.
"We owe it to everyone to do everything we reasonably can."
Dozens of items have been spotted since Australian authorities moved the search 1,100 km (685 miles) north after new analysis of radar and satellite data, but none has been linked to Flight MH370.
The new search area, while closer to Perth and subject to calmer weather, is also closer to an area of the Indian Ocean where currents drag all manner of flotsam and rubbish.
"I would say the search area is located just outside of what we call the garbage patches," Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales said.
"However, there is much more debris there than in the Southern Ocean. Debris from Western Australia that ends up in the garbage patches will have to move through the search area."
However the greatest problem remains the vast search area, roughly the size of Poland or New Mexico.
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March 30, 2014
Ten ships and as many aircraft will search a swathe of the Indian Ocean west of Perth on Sunday, trying again to find some trace of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 after more than three weeks of fruitless and frustrating hunting.
Numerous objects have been spotted in the two days since Australian authorities moved the search 1,100 km (685 miles) after new analysis of radar and satellite data concluded the Boeing 777 travelled faster and for a shorter distance after vanishing from civilian radar screens on March 8.
However, none has been confirmed as coming from Flight MH370 and time is running out to find any debris, work out a likely crash zone and recover the aircraft's "black box" voice and data recorders before batteries pinging their location die.
An Australian navy ship fitted with a sophisticated US black box locater and an unmanned underwater drone is due to leave later on Sunday.
But the ADV Ocean Shield will take days to reach the search zone, an area the size of New Mexico some 1,850 km (1,150 miles) to the west of Perth.
Malaysia says the plane, which disappeared less than an hour into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was likely diverted deliberately. Investigators have determined no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or the 12 crew.
Weather threatens search
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said aircraft from China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the United States would be searching on Sunday.
"Weather in the search area is forecast to worsen today with light showers and low cloud, though search operations are expected to continue," AMSA said in a statement
Both a Chinese ship and an Australian navy vessel picked up objects yesterday but nothing has been linked to Flight MH370.
The Chinese navy vessel Jinggangshan, which carries two helicopters, reached the new search area early on Saturday where it was expected to focus on searching for plane surfaces, oil slicks and life jackets in a sea area of some 6,900 sq km, state news agency Xinhua reported.
The search, being coordinated by Australia, has involved unprecedented cooperation between more than two dozen countries and 60 aircraft and ships but has also been bedevilled by regional rivalries and an apparent reluctance to share potentially crucial information due to security concerns.
The Malaysian government has come under strong criticism from China, home to more than 150 of the passengers, where relatives of the missing have accused the government of "delays and deception".
More than 20 Chinese relatives staged a brief protest on Saturday outside the Lido hotel in Beijing where families have been staying for the past three weeks, demanding evidence of the plane's fate.
The peaceful protest came just days after dozens of angry relatives clashed with police after trying to storm the Malaysian embassy.
Many of Saturday's protesters carried slogans demanding the "truth" about their lost loved ones.
"They don't have any direct evidence," said Steve Wang, who had a relative on the flight. "(Their conclusion) is only based on mathematical (analysis) and they used an uncertain mathematical model. Then they come to the conclusion that our relatives are all gone."
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said his country was committed to seeing the investigation through to its final conclusion.
"What they want from us is a commitment to continue the search, and that I have given, not only on behalf of the Malaysian government but the so many nations involved," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur after speaking with families on Saturday.
For more than a week, the international effort had been scouring seas 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, where satellite images had shown possible debris from Flight MH370. That search zone has now been abandoned.
In the first week of the search, Vietnamese, Chinese and Malaysian ships and planes concentrated their efforts in the South China Sea.
The shift north of the search was based on painstaking analysis of Malaysian military radar data and satellite readings from British company Inmarsat.
Chinese ships trawl new area
Chinese ships trawled a new area in the Indian Ocean for a missing Malaysian passenger jet on Saturday, as the search for Flight MH370 entered its fourth week amid a series of false dawns over sightings of debris.
Australian authorities coordinating the operation moved the search 1,100 km (685 miles) north on Friday after new analysis of radar and satellite data concluded the Malaysia Airlines plane travelled faster and for a shorter distance after vanishing from civilian radar screens on March 8.
Chinese aircraft spotted three suspicious objects in a new search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet off Australia's west coast, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.
The items are white, red and orange respectively, Xinhua said.
The southern Indian Oceano is now the main focus of the search, where unidentified pieces of debris have been spotted by New Zealand and Australian Air Force Orions.
Who has seen what so far
Fresh objects spotted by planes searching for a missing Malaysian passenger jet in a new area of the southern Indian Ocean have again raised hopes of unravelling the three-week old mystery.
Australian authorities coordinating the operation dramatically moved the air and sea search 1,100 km (685 miles) north on Friday after new analysis of radar and satellite data concluded Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 travelled faster and for a shorter distance after vanishing from civilian radar screens on March 8.
Australia said late on Friday that five international aircraft had spotted "multiple objects of various colours" in the new search area some 1,850 km (1,150 miles) west of Perth.
Flight Lieutenant Jamin Baker was on a New Zealand Airforce Orion which spotted several items and dropped a marker buoy in "an area of interest".
"Obviously we don't know if these (objects) are associated with the aircraft yet but it certainly looks like we are seeing a lot more debris and just general flotsam in the water, so we could be on to something here," Baker said.
One Chinese navy ship was in the area and would be trying to recover objects on Saturday, while other ships were steaming to the area, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.
Malaysia says the Boeing 777, which vanished less than an hour into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was likely diverted deliberately but investigators have turned up no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or the 12 crew.
U.S. officials close to the investigation said the FBI found nothing illuminating in data it had received from computer equipment used by MH370's pilots, including a home-made flight simulator.
The search has involved more than two dozen countries and 60 aircraft and ships but has been bedevilled by regional rivalries and an apparent reluctance to share potentially crucial information due to security concerns.
Malaysian officials said the new search area was the result of a painstaking analysis of Malaysian military radar data and satellite readings from British company Inmarsat carried out by U.S., Chinese, British and Malaysian investigators.
Engine performance analysis by the plane's manufacturer Boeing helped investigators determine how long the plane could have flown before it ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean, they said.
"Information which had already been examined by the investigation was re-examined in light of new evidence drawn from the Inmarsat data analysis," Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference on Friday.
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