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Malaysia releases preliminary report into MH370



By EILEEN NG

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Air traffic controllers did not realize that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was missing until 17 minutes after it disappeared from civilian radar, according to a preliminary report on the plane's disappearance released Thursday by Malaysia's government.

The government also released other information from the investigation into the flight, including audio recordings of conversations between the cockpit and air traffic control, the plane's cargo manifest and its seating plan.

It provided a map showing the Boeing 777's deduced flight path and a document detailing actions taken by authorities during the hours of confusion that followed the jet's disappearance near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace. Many of the details have previously been disclosed.

The report noted that there is no requirement for real-time tracking of commercial aircraft, and said the uncertainty about Flight 370's last position made it much more difficult to locate the plane. It recommended that international aviation authorities examine the safety benefits of introducing a tracking standard.

The plane went off Malaysian radar at 1:21 a.m. on March 8, and Vietnamese air traffic controllers began contacting Kuala Lumpur at 1:38 a.m. after they failed to establish verbal contact with the pilots and the plane didn't show up on their radar, according to the five-page report, which was dated April 9 and sent last month to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The documents showed that Malaysian authorities did not launch an official search and rescue operation until four hours later, at 5:30 a.m., after efforts to locate the plane failed.

They indicated that Malaysia Airlines at one point thought the plane may have entered Cambodian airspace. The airline said in the report that "MH370 was able to exchange signals with the flight and flying in Cambodian airspace," but that Cambodian authorities said they had no information or contact with Flight 370. It was unclear which flight it was referring to that supposedly exchanged signals with MH370.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak last week appointed a team of experts to review all the information the government has regarding the missing plane, and decide which information should be made public.

"The prime minister set, as a guiding principle, the rule that as long as the release of a particular piece of information does not hamper the investigation or the search operation, in the interests of openness and transparency, the information should be made public," Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a statement Thursday.

Hishammuddin said authorities reviewed data from Malaysian military radar hours after the plane vanished from civilian radar, and only discovered then that it had tracked the jet making a turn-back in a westerly direction across Peninsular Malaysia.

He said he was informed about the military discovery two hours later and relayed this to Najib, who immediately ordered a search in the Strait of Malacca. He defended the military's inaction in pursuing the plane for identification.

"The aircraft was categorized as friendly by the radar operator and therefore no further action was taken at the time," Hishammuddin said.

The cargo manifest includes a receipt for a package containing lithium ion batteries, noting that the package "must be handled with care." Some questions had been raised in March about the batteries, but Malaysia Airlines said then that they were in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Association requirements and classified as "non-dangerous goods."

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines on Thursday told relatives of passengers who were aboard Flight 370 to move out of hotels and return home to wait for news on the search for the plane.

Since the jet disappeared, the airline has been putting the relatives up in hotels, where they've been briefed on the search. But the airline said in a statement that it would close its family assistance centers around the world by May 7, and that the families should receive search updates from "the comfort of their own homes."

The airline said it would establish family support centers in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and would keep in close touch with the relatives through phone calls and meetings.

Malaysia Airlines also said it would pay advance compensation to the relatives.

The plane vanished during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and most of the 227 passengers were Chinese.

No wreckage from the plane has been found, and an aerial search for surface debris ended Monday after six weeks of fruitless hunting. An unmanned sub is continuing to search underwater in an area of the southern Indian Ocean where sounds consistent with a plane's black box were detected in early April. Additional equipment is expected to be brought in within the next few weeks to scour an expanded underwater area.

The head of the search effort has predicted that the search could drag on for as long as a year.

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hotelsierraone May 01 2014 at 1:06 PM

To all of us who have had to deal with Malaysian Telephone Service Centersm it is no suprise that they did not notice it missing.

U.S. Corporations that utilize them as a source of cheap service might take a look at just how inept they are.

Many of these people have no taxes, no utility bill, no mortgage and no car payment. To them, stress just does not exist, nor does responsibility.

Leave Malaysians to Malaysia and stop subjecting American citizens to their folly.

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2 replies
bambi4318.barbara hotelsierraone May 01 2014 at 1:17 PM

Inept, yes that is the word I was looking for!.

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Audrey hotelsierraone May 01 2014 at 1:25 PM

I know of an AMERICAN that is there and they took his passport away so he couldn't leave with out paying them a sum of money (that he does owe) but can not get any axcess to his money to pay them, So he has been there over a year.

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Tom May 01 2014 at 7:20 PM

This airplane is harder to find than Mitt Romney's back tax returns.

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4 replies
bambi4318.barbara May 01 2014 at 7:17 PM

This was a prelimimary report that was released today even though the UN received it last week; when do we get the "real" report? How does one not know a plane is missing for 17 minutes and rescue/recovery is not engaged for over 4 hours? These are some of the answers I would like to hear.

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1 reply
mennis0852 bambi4318.barbara May 01 2014 at 7:43 PM

Part of the issue was that Malaysian air control had transferred the control of the plane to the Vietnam air control, but the plane had not entered Vietnam airspace when it turned. Why didn't Vietnam notice that the plane they were to control was no longer on the radar? Looking at the fightpath it seems like it was designed to fly around radar and head to a remote location.

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frozenbull May 01 2014 at 1:40 PM

Meaningless dibble .

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George Castro May 01 2014 at 7:14 PM

I sed , the air plane is not , there where is been search area, , the plane lands on the water and is in one peace, the plane is up north some where ????
AND WHERE A HELL are the people Called """ medium'''''' ,, now is the time to show your psykick powers, Liars,,, liars,,,,

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1 reply
sarah George Castro May 01 2014 at 8:40 PM

learn how to spell...

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1 reply
deejunebug sarah May 01 2014 at 9:45 PM

Are you related to Gene, by chance?

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bassjam1234 May 01 2014 at 7:01 PM

Muslims

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1 reply
wnagle53 bassjam1234 May 01 2014 at 7:37 PM

enough said !

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Susan May 01 2014 at 6:58 PM

There is ALWAYS debris. Aviators who study the information available still say the plane could have gone north west.

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Jim Alley May 01 2014 at 1:57 PM

NSA knows where it is!! And what the pilot was wearing!!

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Susan May 01 2014 at 6:56 PM

Pakistan.

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1 reply
mennis0852 Susan May 01 2014 at 7:44 PM

It did not have fuel enough to get to Pakistan. Would have had to land in India at most.

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raleigh,nc May 01 2014 at 6:53 PM

As an exemplary punishment, Malayasia should not be allowed to fly planes and have their own airlines.

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