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Fear turns to anger over Malaysia response to missing jet

AFP , Wednesday 12 Mar 2014
Zamani Zakaria, 56, the father of a passenger on the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane, speaks to journalists at a hotel where family members of those aboard the flight are being put up, in Putrajaya March 12, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Concern for a missing airliner swung to mounting outrage and suspicion in Malaysia on Wednesday as critics took aim at officials for a "chaotic lack of coordination" in their response.

"The mood among Malaysians now is moving from patience in the search for the 239 people aboard the missing flight MH370 to embarrassment and anger," local news website Malaysian Insider said in a commentary.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 vanished early Saturday on an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

In one of the biggest aviation mysteries in memory, dozens of aircraft and vessels from an array of countries, including the US Navy, have failed to find a shred of evidence pointing to the plane's fate.

"I'm upset that even with the effort of our country and a few other countries, that .... not a single piece of the flight has shown up or been made public by Malaysia Airlines," said Syed Faris Hakem, 26, a Kuala Lumpur office worker.

"I personally think that they might be covering it up but not sure what's the reason behind it. This is all due to the lack of and contradicting information," he said, reflecting the sentiment of growing numbers of Malaysians.

The country's highly active social media has crackled with expressions of concern and hope for the safety of the missing passengers and crew -- which include 38 Malaysians.

But the mood has begun to turn after the latest confusing report regarding the search added to mounting frustration.

Malaysia's air force chief General Rodzali Daud on Wednesday denied an earlier report which quoted him as saying the jet had been detected by military radar far from its planned flight path.

He said he was misquoted, but it followed a string of developments casting question on authorities' grasp of the situation.

"I think govt is lying about flt chg of course, wild goose chase," a Twitter post said.

In a blog post, industry magazine Flightglobal's operations and safety editor David Learmount said there was an "all-pervasive sense of a chaotic lack of coordination" in Malaysia's search efforts.

Malaysia has said it is coordinating the ongoing search, which has been expanded further west into the Andaman Sea, far from its original focus.

But nothing has been found yet, and Malaysian authorities and the airline have repeatedly grabbed headlines by contradicting each other.

Discrepancies included conflicting information about the ethnicities of two people who used stolen passports to board the plane, whether there were two or four people who used stolen passports, and whether or not some passengers booked for the flight had failed to board.

"I think it is something any country would struggle to deal with, a crisis of this scale," said Gerry Soejatman, an Indonesia-based aviation analyst.

But he added: "Public pressure may result in the command structure and unity of the search to crack. This is not what we want."

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