Family members of passengers aboard flight MH370 watch Najib Razak speak during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
The Malaysian prime minister says investigators now know that the missing Malaysian airliner’s communications were deliberately disabled and that it turned back from its flight to Beijing and flew across Malaysia.
A newly extended, multinational search stretching all the way from Kazakhstan to the southern Indian Ocean was under way on Saturday after satellite data indicated missing flight MH370 last made contact six hours after previously believed.
Speaking for the first time about the Boeing 777 with 239 people on board one week after it vanished from civilian radar, Najib Razak said authorities believed the plane’s diversion from its original flightpath towards Beijing to be the “deliberate action by someone on the plane”.
Malaysian police said on Saturday morning that they were searching the home of the pilot of the missing plane.
According to the raw satellite data, the aircraft last made contact at 8.11am local time on 8 March, nearly seven hours after it lost contact with air traffic control, although it is still unclear just how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact.
Malaysia’s aviation authorities are working with their international counterparts to help determine where exactly the plane may now be, Najib said, who added it was likely to be in one of two possible flight corridors: a northern corridor stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia out towards the southern Indian Ocean.
Najib plainly stated that, while media reports had circulated that the plane was hijacked while on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, authorities were still investigating all possibilities but added: “In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board.”
The satellite data indicates that the plane was flying for far longer than had been initially believed, and is likely to instigate what may be the biggest hunt ever for a missing aircraft.
Some 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are already involved in search and rescue efforts, but the two new flight corridors will necessitate the assistance of all the countries underneath those corridors — including, possibly, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.
MH370: communications deliberately disabled, says Malaysian prime minister – video
The new satellite data sheds considerable light on the mystery of the vanished jet after it was confirmed its two main communications systems — the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System and its transponder — were disabled within one hour of take-off, which erased the jet from civilian radar systems.
Military data had previously shown an “unidentified” aircraft out towards the Malacca Straits at 2.15am local time, an obvious diversion from where flight MH370 was last seen over the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam. Najib confirmed was flight MH370.
“Today, based on raw satellite data which was obtained from the satellite data service provider, we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370,” he said.
The US Federal Aviation Administration, the US National Transportation Safety Board, the UK’s Aviation Accidents Investigation Branch and Malaysian authorities had all come separately and independently to the same conclusion, he added.
The news is likely to fuel speculation over suspected terrorism although no person or group has come forward to disclose why the plane may have been hijacked, and it is still unclear what motives, if any, can explain the diversion away from China.
Still Report # 217 – Flight 370 Update 2
Published on Mar 14, 2014
The hijacking theory is alive and well. Does US Special Operations know where the jet is?