It has been one year since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing. The airplane disappeared over the Indian Ocean on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane, a Boeing 777, was carrying 239 people.
The past 12 months have been a difficult time for families with loved ones on the plane. They are no closer to knowing what happened. The only thing confirmed is an airline official’s statement from one year ago.
“MH370 lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2:40 a.m. this morning…”
Satellite records show Flight 370 likely crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. But months of air, sea and underwater searches have failed to find any evidence of the plane.
More than 20 countries joined in the investigation. At first, crews looked along the expected flight path and in the South China Sea. They later expanded their searches across parts of southern Asia. In all, crews searched more than one million square kilometers. The search of a smaller area is to be completed in May.
Already some people are asking, if the plane is not found, what then?
Malaysia officially declared the plane’s disappearance an accident earlier this year. That announcement cleared the way for Malaysia Airlines to make payments to relatives of the victims. But the move angered families in both Malaysia and China.
American Philip Wood was on Flight 370. His partner, Sarah Bajc, spoke to reporters after Malaysian officials made the announcement. She said they provided no proof or physical evidence to support the declaration.
In her words, “There still is absolutely no verification for what they’ve done to come up with this decision. Just a few months ago, they were saying the flight was under the control of a hijacker. So how is it all of a sudden an accident?”
Sarah Bajc was not alone in her calls for more clarity.
Most of the passengers of Flight 370 were Chinese nationals. In their search for answers, some family members organized protests. This has led to the government questioning their moves and watching their activities.
Recently, some family members traveled to Malaysia to demand answers. Jiang Hui says one of their demands was to see images of their family members entering the airplane.
He says the family members have always asked for a recording of the passengers as they prepared to leave for Beijing. “As far as I know,” he says, “there are some Malaysian family members who have already seen it. They are family members (just like us). Why can’t we see our relatives?”
Steve Wang did not go to Malaysia with the others. But his mother was on Flight 370. He says the families are seeking to show the world that they want the truth.
“When such kind of things happens, you have to take action. Just, just, just imagine that I am a common peoples in, in the Malaysia. If such kind of things happens, I would be scared.”
Steve Wang says his mother was a retired professor. He says she loved taking pictures and was on her way home from a trip to Nepal.
“She go to every place in China and other countries. I think her life is really, is really happy, because it is the best time for her to enjoy the life -- just retired, still young, still have energy and still have passion.”
He adds he is sure the truth will eventually come out, although that may take years. When asked to describe what the past 12 months were like, he had three things to say.
In his words, “The first is nightmare. The second is sadness and pain. And the third is try to be strong.”
Aviation industry leaders are looking to improve safety worldwide. They hope to get better, more dependable equipment to monitor the movement of planes. The International Civil Aviation Organization has been considering several ideas. One proposal is to require aircraft to report their position once every 15 minutes, instead of the current once an hour. That requirement is expected to be in place by November of next year.
In another measure, the United States plans to do away with flight recorders, or black boxes, that have battery power for 30 days. Newly-manufactured devices will last 90 days. They are to be required in U.S. aircraft by 2020.
I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.
This story was reported by Bill Ide in Beijing and Carolyn Presutti in Washington. George Grow wrote it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in This Story
airplane – n. a vehicle with wings that flies
difficult – adj. not easy; hard to do, make or carry out
official – n. a person with power in an organization; a representative of an organization or government; adj. of or out an office; approved by the government or someone in power
satellite – n. a small object in space that moves around a larger object; an object placed in orbit around the earth
accident – n. something that happens by chance or mistake; an unplanned event
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