As planes flew out of Australia trying to spot 122 objects seen floating in the Indian Ocean where officials believed the missing jet may have crashed, Formula One teams and officials prepared to honour the victims of flight MH370 at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Malaysia Airlines also ran a full-page condolence advertisement with a black background in a major newspaper.
“Our sincerest condolences go out to the loved ones of the 239 passengers, friends and colleagues. Words alone cannot express our enormous sorrow and pain,” read the advertisement in the New Straits Times.
The Malaysia Airlines plane vanished on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew, including six Australians and two New Zealanders, on board.
The grand prix on Sunday will be held at the Sepang circuit, which is next to Kuala Lumpur’s main airport, where the ill-fated flight took off earlier this month.
The Mercedes team, which is sponsored by Malaysian oil company Petronas, will have messages of support on its cars and driver helmets.
Driver Lewis Hamilton said the tragedy is “just heartbreaking” and “my heart and thoughts go out to the families and friends”.
F1 officials and local organisers will hold discussions on Thursday about how to best commemorate the loss.
In Washington, FBI chief James Comey told lawmakers on Wednesday that experts were working “literally round the clock” to finish their analysis, in the hopes that the data could provide clues to what happened to MH370.
Malaysia “took us up on our technical abilities, which involves the exploitation of certain computer forensic materials that they’ve given to us. That work is ongoing,” Comey told a House subcommittee meeting to discuss the FBI’s 2015 budget request.
“I don’t want to say more about that in an open setting, but I expect it to be done fairly shortly, within a day or two.”
Malaysian police removed the simulator from Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home nearly two weeks ago, after investigators said they believed the Boeing 777 had been deliberately diverted from its intended route by someone on board.
With the search in motion, Malaysian officials again sought to assuage the angry relatives of the flight’s 153 Chinese passengers. But Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also expressed exasperation, pointedly saying Chinese families “must also understand that we in Malaysia also lost our loved ones”, as did “so many other nations”.
Malaysia has been criticised over its handling of one of the most perplexing mysteries in aviation history. Much of the most strident criticism has come from relatives of the Chinese passengers, some of whom expressed outrage that Malaysia essentially declared their loved ones dead without recovering a single piece of wreckage.
At a hotel banquet room in Beijing on Wednesday, a delegation of Malaysian government and airline officials explained what they knew to the relatives. They were met with scepticism and even ridicule by some of the 100 people in the audience, who questioned how investigators could have concluded the direction and speed of the plane. One man later said he wanted to pummel everyone in the Malaysian delegation.
Meanwhile, a US-based law firm filed court documents that often precede a lawsuit on behalf of a relative of an Indonesian-born passenger.
The filing in Chicago asked a judge to order Malaysia Airlines and Chicago-based Boeing Co to turn over documents related to the possibility that “negligence” caused the Boeing 777 to crash, including any documentation about the chances of “fatal depressurisation” in the cockpit.
Though officials believe they know roughly where the plane is, they don’t know why it disappeared shortly after takeoff. Investigators have ruled out nothing – including mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.