Malaysia’s civil aviation chief quits over Flight 370 lapses

The jet carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished March 8, 2014, and is presumed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean. (AFP)
Updated 31 July 2018
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Malaysia’s civil aviation chief quits over Flight 370 lapses

  • The report released Monday raised the possibility that the jet may have been hijacked
  • The report said there was insufficient information to determine if the aircraft broke up in the air

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia’s civil aviation chief said Tuesday he has resigned to take responsibility after an independent investigative report highlighted shortcomings in the air traffic control center during Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance four years ago.
The report released Monday raised the possibility that the jet may have been hijacked even though there was no conclusive evidence of why it went off course and flew for over seven hours after severing communications.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the report didn’t blame the civil aviation department for the plane’s loss but found that the Kuala Lumpur air traffic control center failed to comply with operating procedures.
“Therefore, it is with regret and after much thought and contemplation that I have decided to resign as chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia,” he said in his statement, adding he has presented his resignation and will step down in two weeks.
The jet carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished March 8, 2014, and is presumed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean. The investigative report, prepared by a 19-member international team, said the cause of the disappearance cannot be determined until the wreckage and the plane’s black boxes are found.
However, the report said the investigation showed lapses by air traffic control, including a failure to swiftly initiate an emergency response and monitor radar continuously, relying too much on information from Malaysia Airlines and not getting in touch with the military for help.
New Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Tuesday the government has formed a committee to investigate and take action on any misconduct based on the report’s findings.
The report said there was insufficient information to determine if the aircraft broke up in the air or during impact with the ocean.
Scattered pieces of debris that washed ashore on African beaches and Indian Ocean islands indicated a distant remote stretch of the ocean where the plane likely crashed. But a government search by Australia, Malaysia and China failed to pinpoint a location. And a second, private search by US company Ocean Infinity that finished at the end of May also found no sign of a crash site.
Grace Subathirai Nathan, whose mother was aboard the plane, said the outcome could have been different if Malaysia’s air traffic control didn’t commit “horrible mistakes.”
She welcomed the “display of accountability” by Azharuddin, who headed operations at the time of the jet’s disappearance and gave daily media briefings, but said he has “taken the easy way out.”
“He has not explained the failings of the controllers, why it happened, what caused it? Was (it) incompetence? Was it neglect? What was it?” she wrote on Facebook.
“I hope that immediate action is taken against all the people who made these mistakes as a lesson for these people who hold a huge responsibility to take their jobs more seriously so that we can avoid disasters like this from happening again,” Nathan said.
Malaysia’s government has said it will resume searching if credible evidence of the plane’s location emerges.


UK and Russia hold first talks in over a year

Updated 16 February 2019
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UK and Russia hold first talks in over a year

  • The meeting is the first between ministers from the two countries following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury on March 4
  • The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, which Britain said was done using a Soviet era nerve agent Novichok, plunged relations to their lowest ebb in decades

LONDON: Junior foreign ministers from Britain and Russia met in Germany on Saturday in the highest-level contact between the two countries since an alleged nerve agent attack in Britain last March froze diplomatic relations.
Britain’s Minister for Europe Alan Duncan held talks with Russia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov on the margins of the Munich Security Conference, according to the foreign office in London.
“Alan underlined that we have deep differences, and the Russian state would need to choose a different path and act as a responsible international partner before there can be a change in our current relationship with Russia,” it said in a statement.
The meeting is the first between ministers from the two countries following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury on March 4 which Britain has blamed on Moscow.
The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, which Britain said was done using a Soviet era nerve agent Novichok, plunged relations to their lowest ebb in decades.
The attack killed a British woman who came into contact with the Novichok, as well as injuring several others including a policeman.
Among a raft of responses, London suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts between the two countries, and canceled ministers and members of the royal family attending last summer’s World Cup in Russia.
“(The) minister reiterated the UK’s and Allies’ firm stance in response to the Russian state’s reckless use of chemical weapons in Salisbury,” the foreign office added in its statement.
“He made clear that Russia must address the concerns of the international community.
“This includes ending its destabilising activity in Ukraine; and the persecution of the LGBT community in Chechnya.”
The foreign office said Britain would continue to “build and strengthen our cultural ties and people to people links with Russia wherever we can.”
Ministers from around the world, including those from the US, France, Britain, and Germany, are taking part in several days of talks in Munich this weekend centered on global security issues.