Senior officials from Malaysia, Australia and China will meet early next week to decide on the next step in the search for the Malaysia Airlines jet. They expressed confidence on Friday that the hunt was on the right track despite no wreckage being found so far.
Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that the challenges were huge but he told reporters, “I believe we will find MH370 sooner or later.”
An unmanned sub continued to scan the Indian Ocean floor off western Australia — 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 aerial search for surface debris ended this week.
Angus Houston, the Australian head of the search operation, said he was confident the wreckage was in that area based on the most promising leads. He said, however, that the chances of the U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21 robotic sub finding the wreckage are “... lower than it was when we started the search.”
According to Mr. Hishammuddin, Malaysia was still considering whether to hire private deep sea vessels to search the Bay of Bengal area as it could distract the main search and cost involved would be high.
“Many leads in the past have proven to be negative and this is similar to what we have done before,” he said. “There is nothing new, but we have informed the littoral States to verify this claim.”
In Beijing, relatives of the passengers complained that they were being told to vacate their hotel by 6 p.m. on Friday, a day after Malaysia Airlines asked them to move out and wait at home for updates on the search for the plane.
Steve Wang, a spokesman for the relatives, said the timetable was too rushed and that it would be harder than ever to get information from the airline.
“We want to stay here because we don’t believe Malaysia Airlines can provide a platform to communicate,” Wang said as policemen looked on. “Every time ... when something big happened, they cannot send the message to all of the next of kin.”
Many of the relatives remaining at the Beijing hotels continue to distrust information being relayed to them by Malaysia Airlines. Some still insist that the plane never crashed and remains intact in some unknown location.