Friday, January 30, 2015

Malaysia declares MH370 an ‘accident’




Jacquita Gonzales, wife of MH370 flight attendant Patrick Gomes, says families of victims on board the Malaysia Airlines flight, which has been missing since March 8, 2014, are angry after the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) cancelled a press conference in Putrajaya today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, January 29, 2015.

Jacquita Gonzales, wife of MH370 flight attendant Patrick Gomes, says families of victims on board the Malaysia Airlines flight, which has been missing since March 8, 2014, are angry after the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) cancelled a press conference in Putrajaya today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, January 29, 2015.

Malaysia today declared that flight MH370 was lost in an accident, killing all 239 passengers and crew members on board.

Director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said today the government acknowledged that the declaration would be difficult for the families and loved ones to consider, much less accept.

“It is, nonetheless, important that families try to resume normal lives, or as normal a life as may be possible after this sudden loss. Without in any way intending to diminish the feelings of the families, it is hoped that this declaration will enable the families to obtain the assistance they need, in particular through the compensation process,” he said.



Azharuddin read the statement live on air and the declaration is available on the DCA website.
"It is with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that, on behalf of the government of Malaysia, we officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident in accordance with the Standards of Annexes 12 and 13 to the Chicago Convention and that all 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives,” said Azharuddin.

MAS, he said, would undertake its responsibilities regarding the rights and interests of the next-of-kin as provided for by law, and was ready to proceed with the compensation process to the families of those on board the ill-fated flight.

"This includes the fulfilment of the compensation process, whether it is pursued through consultation or through litigation."

Azharuddin said the declaration was made in accordance with the Standards of Annexes 12 and 13 to the Chicago Convention, taking into account the circumstances and the available data.

Annexe 13 states that the definition of the term “accident” includes “the aircraft is missing”. It also states that “an aircraft is considered to be missing when the official search has been terminated and the wreckage has not been located”.

Annexe 13 states that search and rescue operations shall continue, when practicable, until all survivors are delivered to a place of safety or until all reasonable hope of rescuing survivors has passed.

Despite the "frustrating" 327 day search, Azharuddin said countries in the joint search team had never wavered in their commitment, adding that Malaysia would continue in its efforts in order to bring closure to the tragedy.

"The government of Malaysia also assures the families of the passengers and crew that the search for MH370 remains a priority.

"This declaration is by no means the end. We will forge ahead with the cooperation and assistance of the governments of China and Australia. MH370, its passengers and its crew will always be remembered and honoured.”

MH370 disappeared less than an hour after departing from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 last year. Most of with 239 people on board were Chinese nationals.

The initial search and rescue operations covered the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea and the southern Indian Ocean, involving 65 aircraft and 95 vessels and experts from 25 countries.

On April 28, 2014, the search and rescue phase transitioned to a underwater search and recovery phase led by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

"The underwater search is still ongoing at this time and the exercise is currently being performed by four vessels, namely the Go Phoenix, Fugro Discovery, Fugro Equator and Fugro Supporter. To date, the search has covered over 18,600 square kilometres," Azharuddin said today.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said in a statement today the declaration would ensure that every assistance was provided to the next-of-kin.

"The announcement has no bearing on the search operations. The search for MH370 will continue. The governments of Malaysia, China and Australia remain firmly committed to the ongoing search," Liow said in reference to the ongoing search for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. – January 29, 2015.