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The Star Online: Nation

Missing MH370: 'Debris should be within area image was taken'

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Images of possible debris from the missing MH370 plane that was captured on Sunday could not have moved far from where they were originally taken, said former Malaysian Maritime Search and Rescue department chief Datuk Kapt Jaffar Lamri.

He explained that floating objects tend not to move much in the sea.

"If it's floating, it shouldn't be that far from the spot.

"It should be within the area where the image was taken," he said.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (pic) said that two objects possibly linked to the missing plane had been sighted on satellite in the remote southern Indian Ocean.

Abbott said the "new and credible information" had come to light nearly two weeks after the plane disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.

"Searching for the wreckage would be a different story and could take years," said Kapt Jaffar.

"The object would have sunk by now and finding it would be a totally different story," he said.

"At least finding the debris is a start," he added.

Missing MH370: Unprecedented level of cooperation

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Twenty-six countries are involved in the search for Flight MH370, and it is times like these that we are reminded of who our real friends are.

IF there's a silver lining to the anguish and uncertainty which surrounds the disappearance of Flight MH370, it is that we are reminded of who our friends are.

Mystery of MH370

While the public focus may have been on the daily press briefings, work went on behind the scenes, putting our diplomacy to the test.

With 26 countries providing assets, data and intelligence, the level and type of civilian and military cooperation in this national and international tragedy was unprecedented.

"Some countries sent assets from the beginning, without Malaysian officials even picking up the phone or making diplomatic contact," noted former army field commander Lt Jen (Rtd) Datuk Seri Zaini Mohd Said, speaking as an observer.

A Prime Minister's Office (PMO) official said British Prime Minister David Cameron called Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on his own initiative, to say the missing crew and passengers were in their thoughts and prayers and to ask if there was any help Britain could give.

Najib was making calls until around 10pm each day, contacting heads of state and heads of government in Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, New Zealand, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

In some cases, he had to speak through interpreters.

"It shows his concern about the crisis and that he has done everything he could, at the highest level," said the PMO Official.

The Prime Minister asked for help detecting whether the plane had entered their territories.

"If the plane had been detected he asked their help to inform us and if it hadn't, to let us know also so that we can narrow the search."

Although Malaysia was asking for both civilian and military information, and from countries with different ideologies, the PMO Official said there were no obstacles to gaining their cooperation.

"They all gave their support and sympathies and prayers. Some prime ministers and presidents also took the opportunity to invite him to visit when times are better."

Wisma Putra was in the picture from the start, notifying the affected foreign missions on developments and the search and rescue (SAR) operation.

Both Wisma Putra and the Malaysian embassy in Beijing were involved in the operation and Wisma Putra coordinated diplomatic clearance for the assets used.

Looking back on the early stages, Datuk Seri Zaini pointed out that the first three or four days of any crisis "are always spent trying to get a grip on things. If this had happened to any other country, about 80% of them would have had the same problems that we are having."

And he estimates that despite the massive difficulties, Malaysia managed quite well.

"It was a very challenging scenario," he said, "and Malaysia was working with countries which also had issues."

The processes needed for the search were not straightforward, he explained.

"You can't just fly through without permission, for example."

Sharing military intelligence was key to resolving the mystery of the missing MH370 and Malaysia took the lead in that.

"Malaysia has actually put aside national security, national interest to get to where we are today," Acting Minister of Trans- port Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein stressed.

Coordinating the responses of 26 countries was a daunting task, but they all gave their utmost cooperation.

The joint international effort saw China, for example, making arrangements with Australia to send an aircraft to the southern corridor covering Indonesia to the southern part of the Indian ocean.

The PMO official sees that as a good gesture on China's part.

"We are all working together," he said, "and that's a good sign for the region."

Doctor: Quite a number of them unable to focus on their routine

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Physical signs of stress are showing among many of the family members of the passengers and crew of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Mystery of MH370

According to Health Ministry psychiatric department head Dr Toh Chin Lee, quite a number of them suffered loss of appetite and sleep and were unable to focus on their routine.

"We had patients with breathing problems, the cause of which we later discovered was not respiratory issues but stress.

"One patient had to be sent to Putrajaya Hospital when she started hyperventilating, but luckily she had a full recovery the next day," said Dr Toh.

Dr Toh is part of the team of psychiatrists, counsellors, nurses and paramedics stationed round-the-clock at The Everly Putrajaya hotel to help the family members through this difficult period.

Many psychiatrists in the team, including Dr Toh, have experience working in a crisis, the last such situation being the Lahad Datu intrusion last year.

Counsellors from agencies like the Public Service Department, Welfare Department and Counsellors Council are the "frontliners" who deal with family members for early intervention while the psychiatrists handle more serious cases that may require medication and professional treatment.

"Some patients just need psychiatric treatment by the doctors here, but others might also require medication, which we provide as and when necessary.

"Our advantage is that we arrived early to seek out the families, but the disadvantage at this point is that there are still uncertainties beyond anyone's control," he added.

The static clinic in the hotel has a solitary makeshift bed, next to a table with plastic cases of medication, which Dr Toh said was enough to treat basic emergency cases.

Any patient who requires further medical attention will be referred immediately to the Putrajaya, Serdang, Selayang, Klang or Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

Dr Toh said the psychiatrists and counsellors had arranged for "sharing sessions" among the families so they could open up more.

"It is good for the families to be staying together here as everyone here has a loved one on the flight. As they interact, they can become a mutual support group.

"However, it is also good for them to perhaps go back to their homes for support from their own extended family members and friends, as this will help them build strength to weather this tough time," he added.

Counsellors dealing directly with the families said that many of them stayed in their rooms and only came out for meals and briefings.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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