Shortly after the prime minister finished speaking police arrived
at the home of the missing aircraft's pilot to search for evidence,
a senior police official told Reuters.
As the unprecedented search for Flight MH370 and its 239 passengers
and crew entered its second week, Najib told a news conference that
the hunt for wreckage around the scheduled flight path to the east
of Malaysia was being called off.
"Despite media reports the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very
clear, we are still investigating all possibilities as to what
caused MH370 to deviate," Najib said.
The fate of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER has been
shrouded in mystery since it disappeared off Malaysia's east coast
less than an hour into a March 8 scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur
But investigators have increasing focused on the possibility that it
was flown off-course by the pilot or co-pilot, or someone else on
board with detailed knowledge of how to fly and navigate a large
Police officers arrived at the home of the captain, 53-year-old
Zaharie Ahmad Shah, on Saturday afternoon. A senior police official
told Reuters they had gone to take evidence that could help with the
About two-thirds of the passengers on board the flight were Chinese,
and Beijing has been showing increasing impatience with the speed
and co-ordination of the Malaysian search effort.
On Saturday, China said it had demanded that Malaysia keep providing
more thorough and accurate information, and added that it was
sending a technical team to Malaysia to help with the investigation.
Najib said new data showed the last communication between the
missing plane and satellites at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time.
That is almost seven hours after it dropped off civilian air traffic
control screens at 1:22 a.m. last Saturday, less than an hour after
take-off. It was flying across the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand on
the eastern side of Malaysia towards Vietnam.
Najib said satellite data confirmed that an unidentified aircraft
that later appeared on military radar off Malaysia's west coast
before going out of range at 2:15 a.m. was flight MH370.
"Up until the point at which it left military primary radar
coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by
someone on the plane," he said.
He said analysis of the plane's last communication with satellites
placed it somewhere in one of two corridors: a northern corridor
stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and
Turkmenistan, or a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to
the southern Indian Ocean.
Those corridors represent a satellite track, which appears as an arc
on a map. The plane did not necessarily follow the corridor, but was
at some point along its path at the moment the signal was sent.
[to top of second column]
Earlier, a source familiar with official U.S. assessments of
electronic signals sent to satellites said it appeared most likely
the plane turned south over the Indian Ocean, where it would
presumably have run out of fuel and crashed into the sea.
The other interpretation was that Flight MH370 continued to fly to
the northwest and headed over Indian territory.
The source added that it was believed unlikely the plane flew for
any length of time over India because that country has strong air
defense and radar coverage and that should have allowed authorities
there to see the plane and intercept it.
Two sources familiar with the investigation in Malaysia told Reuters
on Friday that military radar data showed the aircraft following a
commonly used commercial, navigational route towards the Middle East
That course — headed into the Andaman Sea and towards the Bay of
Bengal in the Indian Ocean — could only have been set deliberately,
either by flying the jet manually or by programming the auto-pilot.
The disappearance of the Boeing 777 — one of the safest commercial
jets in service — is shaping into one of the most baffling mysteries
in aviation history.
It is extremely rare for a modern passenger aircraft to disappear
once it has reached cruising altitude, as MH370 had. When that does
happen, the debris from a crash is usually found close to its last
known position relatively quickly.
In this case, there has been no trace of the plane, nor any sign of
wreckage, as the navies and military aircraft of more than a dozen
countries scour the seas on both sides of peninsular Malaysia.
The maximum range of the Boeing 777-200ER is 7,725 nautical miles or
14,305 km. It is not clear how much fuel the aircraft was carrying
though it would have been enough to reach its scheduled destination,
Beijing, a flight of five hours and 50 minutes, plus some reserve.
(Additional reporting by Niluksi Koswanage, Yantoultra Ngui,
Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah and Stuart Grudgings in Kuala Lumpur, Greg
Torode in Hong Kong, Tim Hepher in Paris, Paul Sandle in London,
Mark Hosenball, Andrea Shalal, Will Dunham, Phil Stewart and Roberta
Rampton in Washington and Sanjib Kumar Roy in Port Blair, India;
writing by Alex Richardson and Dean Yates; editing by Mark Bendeich,
Neil Fullick and Robert Birsel)
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