World News

Malaysia Denies Providing Inconsistent Information on Missing Plane

Malaysian officials are denying accusations they have provided inconsistent information on a missing jetliner with 239 people on board, as the search for the plane entered its fifth day.

Transport Minister Seri Hishammuddin said Malaysia is dealing with an "unprecedented" situation and will do "whatever it takes" to find the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing Saturday.



"My heart reaches out to the families of the passengers and crew, and I give you my assurance that we will not reduce the tempo and that we will not spare any effort to find the missing plane."



At a news conference Wednesday, the minister said 42 ships and 39 aircraft from 12 countries have so far "found nothing" in their search, which now spans over 50,000 kilometers.

He said the focus is both on the South China Sea, where the plane was last tracked by civilian air traffic controllers, and the Strait of Malacca, which is across the Malaysian peninsula and several hundred kilometers away.

Earlier Wednesday, the Malaysian military backed away from statements that it last tracked the plane in the strait, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

At the news conference, a military official said the plane may have been spotted on radar at 2:15 a.m. Saturday local time 320 kilometers northwest of the Malaysian island of Penang. But, the official said, he cannot be sure it was indeed the flight in question.

If the plane did make it to the Strait of Malacca, it would call into question theories that the jet experienced some sort of sudden catastrophic event shortly after takeoff that prevented pilots from communicating with authorities.

The plane disappeared from civilian radar without any distress calls about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing early Saturday, when weather conditions appeared to be clear.



Many relatives of those on the plane are growing frustrated with a lack of answers and sometimes contradictory information from the Malaysian government.

After meeting with Malaysian government representatives Wednesday in Beijing, one family member, who identified herself as Ms. Li, said she does not feel sufficiently informed.



"I'm not very satisfied (with the meeting). There are many things that have still not been clearly explained and they still haven't met our requests."



China's government also said Wednesday that the conflicting information on the plane's course was "pretty chaotic."

Meanwhile, new allegations arose concerning past behavior of one of the plane's pilots. A South African woman, Jonti Roos, told Australia's Channel Nine TV the plane's first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid, invited her and another woman into the cockpit on a flight two years ago.

Roos shared several pictures that appear to show her posing with Fariq and his co-pilot. She said the men talked and flirted with her for the entire flight from Thailand to Kuala Lumpur in December 2011.

In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said it was "shocked" by the allegations, which it said it takes "very seriously." The airline said it has not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures.

Malaysian officials have been exploring scenarios of what may have brought down the jet, including an explosion, hijackers, pilot error or mechanical failure.

At the Kuala Lumpur International Airport where the plane took off, many passengers were jittery. One passenger, Johan, said he is more concerned for the families of those on board the missing jet.



"I think the family members need to be strong with regard, you know, while waiting, although it's a very long wait, but they have to be strong and hope for the best because we still have no clues even at this point."



Aerospace expert Wayne Plucker tells VOA he believes the Boeing 777 jet eventually will be found but that it might take some time.



"This may be a while. Remember that the Air France plane that went down off of Brazil (in 2009), it took quite awhile even though there was apparent wreckage on the surface. "



Plucker said the Boeing 777 has had a good safety record.



"There's nothing that points a finger at a problem. Malaysian Airlines has a good history of maintenance."



About two-thirds of the people on board were Chinese nationals, with the remainder from other Asian countries, Europe and North America.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs