KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 – The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 enters its 60th day tomorrow as Malaysia and several other countries consider a new phase of scouring the floor of the southern Indian Ocean. The focus has shifted to the ocean floor after an aerial, surface and underwater search over the last 59 days failed to find the missing plane. Following is the chronology of events from the time the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft disappeared on March 8:
* March 8 (Day 1) – Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, leaves the KL International Airport at 12.41 am and disappears from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6.30 am.
– The passengers are nationals of China (153), Malaysia (38), Indonesia (seven), Australia (seven), India (five) France (three), the United States (three), New Zealand (two), Ukraine (two), Canada (two), Russia (one), Italy (one), Taiwan (one), Holland (one) and Austria (one).
– A search-and-rescue (SAR) operation is mounted at 5.30 am for the missing Boeing B777-200ER, with the focus on the South China Sea.
* March 9 (Day 2) – Military radar indicates the possibility of an unidentified aircraft having made an “air turnback”.
– A Chinese satellite captures images of possible objects related to the missing aircraft in the South China Sea.
– The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) finds a large oil slick 100 nautical miles off Tok Bali, Kelantan.
– It is learnt that two passengers had boarded the aircraft with fake passports under the guise of an Italian and Austrian.
* March 10 (Day 3) – The MMEA confirms the oil slick is bunker fuel, not aircraft fuel.
* March 11 (Day 4) – The SAR operation extends to the Strait of Melaka due to the possibility of the aircraft having made the air turnback.
– Malaysian police and Interpol disclose that the two men travelling on stolen passports are Iranian nationals Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 19, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Erza, 29, but they are not linked to any terrorist group.
* March 12 (Day 5) – The SAR operation extends to the south of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.
* March 13 (Day 6) – There is no proof that the floating objects in the South China Sea captured on Chinese satellite images on Sunday are connected to the missing plane. Chinese authorities also say the satellite images were mistakenly issued.
* March 14 (Day 7)- The SAR operation extends to the Indian Ocean.
* March 15 (Day 8) – Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak confirms that the unidentified flight that made the air turnback traced by primary radar is Flight MH370.
– The SAR operation focuses on two possible corridors – the northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand and the southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
– It is learnt that Flight MH370’s communication system and transponder are switched off when the plane reaches the east coast of peninsular Malaysia and between the Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic controls, respectively.
– The SAR operation ends in the South China Sea.
* March 16 (Day 9) – There is no ransom demand from any party.
– All MAS ground staff and engineers involved in handling the MH370 aircraft come under investigation by the police.
– Malaysian Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar says investigation on the missing aircraft focuses on four areas – possibility of hijack, sabotage, psychological conditions of the passengers and crew, and personal problems of the passengers and crew.
The police seize a self-made flight simulator from the house of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the missing MH370.
* March 17 (Day 10) – The SAR multinational operation involving 26 countries begins in the southern and northern corridors, covering a total area of 2.24 million square nautical miles.
* March 18 (Day 11) – The SAR operation focuses on four tasks – gathering information from satellite surveillance; analysis of surveillance radar data; increasing air and surface assets and increasing the number of technical and subject matter experts.
– Foreign news reports claim the missing aircraft has been sighted flying low over the Maldives.
* March 19 (Day 12) – Malaysian authorities dismiss the claim.
* March 20 (Day 13) – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott informs Najib of objects possibly related to MH370 spotted in the southern Indian Ocean, about 2,500km southwest of Perth.
* March 21 (Day 14) – Australia continues search for the two objects photographed by a satellite.
* March 22 (Day 15) – Chinese satellite spots a floating object measuring 22.5 metres by 13 metres in the Indian Ocean.
– No sighting of objects identified by Australian authorities some 2,500km southwest of Perth.
* March 23 (Day 16) – French authorities provide new satellite images showing potential objects that may be related to the missing jetliner in the southern corridor.
* March 24 (Day 17) – Najib announces that data released by Britain’s Inmarsat satellite concludes that the missing Boeing 777-200ER has ended in the southern Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
– There is no proof that objects detected by a French satellite belongs to the missing aircraft.
* March 25 (Day 18) – The SAR operation focuses on the southern corridor in the Indian Ocean following latest indications, and operation in the northern corridor is called off.
* March 26 (Day 19) – New satellite images detect 122 potential objects that may be related to the missing MH370 aircraft, about 2,557km from Perth.
* March 27 (Day 20) – Thailand satellite detects 300 floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean, around 2,700km southwest of Perth.
* March 28 (Day 21) – Operation intensifies to locate possible debris spotted in southern Indian ocean.
* March 29 (Day 22) – Transport Ministry sets up international panel to look into MH370 incident.
* March 30 (Day 23) – The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) says a number of objects retrieved by the HMAS Success and Haixun 01 vessels were examined and are found to be not related to MH370.
* March 31 (Day 24) – Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein issues last conversation in the transcript between the air traffic controller and the cockpit of MH370 at 0119 hours (Malaysian Time) on March 8: “Good Night, Malaysian three seven zero”.
* April 1 (Day 25) – The Malaysian Transport Ministry releases the full transcript of the communication between MH370 and the Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control, with no indication of anything abnormal.
* April 2 (Day 26) – Malaysian police “clear” all passengers of the missing airliner of hijacking, sabotage and psychological and personal problems, but say they are still investigating the cabin crew, including the pilot and co-pilot.
* April 3 (Day 27) – Najib visits Australia to thank his Australian counterpart and those involved in the search and recovery operation.
* April 4 (Day 28) – The search for MH370 enters a new phase with underwater search in the southern Indian Ocean to scour the treacherous waters to hunt for the black box ‘pinger’.
* April 5 (Day 29) – Hishammuddin announces Malaysia will set up an independent investigation team comprising an airworthiness group, an operations group and a medical and human factors group, to investigate the disappearance of Flight MH370.
– The Malaysian government establishes three ministerial committees to streamline and strengthen ongoing efforts.
– A black box detector deployed by the Chinese patrol vessel Haixun 01 picks up two short pulse signals in the southern Indian Ocean.
* April 6 (Day 30) – Another pulse signal is detected in the southern Indian Ocean by Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield, about 300 nautical miles from where the pulse signals were picked up by Haixun 01.
* April 7 (Day 31) – Ocean Shield detects two pulse signals, with the first detection recorded for two hours and 20 minutes and the second, 13 minutes.
* April 8 (Day 32) – Search intensifies following new leads.
* April 9 (Day 33) – American and Australian experts confirm that the pulse signals picked up by vessels searching for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean are from a man-made device and are not natural sounds from the sea, due to its frequency.
* April 10 (Day 34) – An Australian aircraft picks up a possible signal while conducting an acoustic search in the southern Indian Ocean.
* April 11 (Day 35) – The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) confirms that a signal picked up by an Australian AP-3C Orion aircraft the day before in the Indian Ocean search area is not related to an aircraft underwater locator beacon.
* April 12 (Day 36) – Ocean Shield continues more focused sweeps with the towed pinger locator to try and locate further signals related to the aircraft’s black box.
* April 13 (Day 37) – Ocean Shield detects an oil slick in the southern Indian Ocean.
* April 14 (Day 38) – The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Bluefin-21 is deployed as the search for continues underwater.
* April 15 (Day 39) – Around six hours of data gathered by Bluefin-21 is extracted and analysed.
* April 16 (Day 40) – No objects of interest are found from the data collected by Bluefin-21 in its first mission on April 14, says the JACC.
* April 17 (Day 41) – The oil slick detected by Ocean Shield is confirmed to be not aircraft engine or hydraulic fluid, says the JACC.
* April 18 (Day 42) – Bluefin-21 continues its mission.
* April 19 (Day 43) – Bluefin-21 continues its mission.
* April 20 (Day 44) – No contacts of interest are found, says the JACC. * April 21 (Day 45) – Visual search resumes with mobilisation of aircraft and ships while Bluefin-21 continues its mission.
* April 22 (Day 46) – Air search continues despite Tropical Cyclone Jack lashing the southern Indian Ocean.
* April 23 (Day 47) – Unidentified material washes ashore 10 km east of Augusta, 322 km south of Perth.
– Air search is suspended due to poor weather.
* April 24 (Day 48) – Material washed ashore Augusta is confirmed not from Flight MH370.
* April 25 (Day 49) – Aerial and underwater search continues.
* April 26 (Day 50) – Bluefin-21 faces technical issue.
* April 27 (Day 51) – No new development reported.
* April 28 (Day 52) – Search operation set to enter new phase with more focus to be given to a much larger underwater search area.
* April 29 (Day 53) – Claim of possible MH370 plane wreckage found in Bay of Bengal, off Bangladesh.
* April 30 (Day 54) – Hishammuddin announces preliminary report on Flight MH370 disappearance to be released the next day.
* May 1 (Day 55) – Transport Ministry releases preliminary report on Flight MH370, including its cargo manifest and audio recordings between the cockpit and Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control.
* May 2 (Day 56) – Hishammuddin announces Malaysia, China and Australia to hold a trilateral meeting in Canberra on May 5.
– MAS announces it will give advance compensation payment to the next-of-kin of each passenger and crew.
– The JACC confirms nothing has been found in the Bay of Bengal.
* May 3 (Day 57) – No new development.
* May 4 (Day 58) – No new development.
* May 5 (Day 59) – Search enters new phase on floor of southern Indian Ocean.