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Another sighting and a poignant message

ANGUISH: A relative of one of the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight being escorted past a media scrum in Beijing. PHOTO: AFP


    Mar 11, 2014

    Another sighting and a poignant message


    LATE last evening, there was another reported sighting of the debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

    Hong Kong's Air Traffic Control Center said that an airliner had spotted a "large field of debris", about 80 nautical miles south-east of Ho Chi Minh City.

    Earlier sightings, like that of an oil slick, had turned out to be false alarms.

    As the few clues about the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) jetliner trailed off, rumours that passengers' phones still rang and new sightings of a possible life raft at sea kept distraught relatives on tenterhooks.

    Three days on, very little is known about how Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the wee hours of Saturday morning without even sending a distress signal.

    Yesterday, an object that resembled a grey life raft found 140km south-west of Vietnam's Tho Chu island later turned out to be a moss-covered cable.

    As Chinese officials met family members of the 153 Chinese passengers on board for the first time yesterday, some demanded that the government expand its search-and-rescue efforts on land too, instead of focusing only on the waters near Vietnam.

    That is because some of them could dial through to the numbers of the passengers, proving that the phones are on land, not at sea.

    Families were frustrated as the search for their loved ones drew a blank.

    On Weibo, a message in Chinese from an air traffic controller in Guangzhou, China, reaching out to the passengers of the missing MH370 flight, garnered more than 100,000 reshares.

    It reads: "Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the air traffic control radar hopes to see you. If you can hear this, please maintain your current altitude, and proceed directly to your destination.

    "Know that we have applied for a direct route for you, and other kind-hearted flights will accommodate you by giving way to you. Everyone is willing to let you be the first to land. The weather for your route is currently sunny and cloudless, with the air temperature at your destination Beijing being 5 deg C, a little cold, so dress warmly when disembarking.

    "Remember to hug the friends and family who have come to pick you up, because they love you very much. Good day."