Flight of Hope
A report by Anne Casey, 8 April 2014 - Originally published as Australia Correspondent to ftvpmac.com and Sally Cronin's "Sunday Show" on UK radio station, Express FM 93.7 :
Their smiling faces jump off the news pages. Newlyweds, acclaimed calligraphers, a stuntman, holidaymakers, seven children, an engineer, a father of two toddlers seeking to secure his family’s future – their stories have ignited the light of hope in the hearts of millions of people worldwide.
Without a trace
Sons, daughters, wives, mothers, fathers and friends from 14 nations hang on every word released from the Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), now ‘Mission Control’ in Perth, Western Australia. It seems as if a collective global conscience rides the waves of hope and despair in the race against time to find the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
With its 227 passengers and 12 crew, the plane disappeared without a trace on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing exactly one month ago today.
Latest from Mission Control in Australia
Hopes again soared this morning when the JACC released news of new signal detections. The Australian search ship, Ocean Shield, sensed two signals, possibly emanating from the missing airplane’s black box. This was the latest in a month-long vigil which has offered many such optimistic signs.
Search efforts have centred on the Indian Ocean approximately 1,850 km off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, one of the three most remote cities in the world. With a search area of 234,000 sq km – just slightly smaller than the size of the United Kingdom – it is not surprising the search has turned up few solid leads to date. Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has described the search mission as “an extraordinarily difficult exercise”.
International cooperation hampered
The combined efforts of personnel from Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, China, Japan and Korea have been peppered by false starts and difficulties. Despite the use of ground-breaking technologies in aerial, sea and undersea acoustic searches, not one shred of solid evidence has emerged as to what really happened to Flight MH370 and the 239 souls on board.
On top of the vastness and remoteness of the search area, efforts have been hindered by a mass of floating waste and debris in the Indian Ocean, strong currents in the region, high winds, local cyclones, and the depth of the water. The latest signals have been picked up in waters 4.5 km deep (just over half the height of Mount Everest).
Hope against hope
The greatest challenge now is time. The standard battery life for the airplane’s black box is just 30 days, though some can continue to emit signals for several days more.
As we await news from this, the 31st day of the search, perhaps we can turn our minds to the families of the 153 Chinese people, 38 Malaysians, 7 Indonesians, 6 Australians, 5 Indians, 4 French, 3 Americans, 2 New Zealanders, 2 Ukrainians, 2 Canadians, one Russian, one Taiwanese, one Dutch person, and the two men (one Iranian) travelling on stolen passports.
It is human nature to hope beyond all hope. In a search which has drawn together such an upsurge of hope across the globe, the greatest hope for the families of the missing must now be that they receive some closure – some answer to the mystery of what became of Flight MH370 one sunny day somewhere over the Southern Indian Ocean on 8 March 2014.
Award-winning poet and writer