‘MH370 in southern Indian Ocean’

PUTRAJAYA: The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) is steadfast in its belief that the missing Flight MH370 is in the southern Indian Ocean despite earlier false leads, said new chief coordinator Judith Zielke.

She said the critical task of determining and refining the search area was carried out by a group of experts from a range of countries, adding that there is no reason to doubt them.

“They are engaged in putting forward and testing their views in relation to where we should be looking,” said Zielke during an exclusive interview with The Star.

She said although there were many people with various opinions about the search area for the plane, she remained cautiously optimistic on a personal level.

Emirates Airlines head Tim Clark was reported to have told German magazine Der Spiegel that the Australian-led mission to find the plane might be looking in the wrong area.

“Using the best data we have, I believe that we are searching the right area. But I can’t underestimate the size and scale of this search, which is unprecedented,” said Zielke, who was in Malaysia for a two-day meeting with authorities here.

She said JACC had been disappointed when audio recordings of signals in April – previously believed to be consistent to those emitted by black boxes installed on planes – turned out to be unrelated to the missing aircraft.

“We may never know what those ‘pings’ were but they have been fully investigated and we know the aircraft is not located on the ocean floor where they were heard,” she said.

There had been many other occasions when they thought that they were close to finding the plane, she added.

“To date, we have not come across something that, once investigated, had proven to be aircraft debris,” she said, adding that she feels for the families of the passengers each time she prays.

“Every morning, I pray that today will be the day,” she said.

JACC, pointed out Zielke, had been set up as a single point of contact for families and the public to understand where the search was currently at.

“I think we have made best efforts in providing honest and open information to everybody that has asked about the search and as best as we can,” she said.

Zielke said dealing with the next of kin often meant providing them with an opportunity to ask their questions in a quiet location.

“We are meeting with the Voice 370 group again this afternoon (yesterday). I know we can’t help to give them closure but we do want to make sure that they have the opportunity to have the answers that we can give them,” she said.

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