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Actions of plane suggest deliberate act: Malaysian PM

(Agencies/ Updated: 2014-03-15 14:56

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Actions of plane suggest deliberate act: Malaysian PM

Passengers' and their nationalities:

Chinese 154 
Malaysia 38
India 5
Indonesia 7
Australia 6
France 4
USA 3 
New Zealand 2
Ukraine 2
Canada 2
Russia 1
Italy 1
Netherlands 1
Austria 1

KUALA LUMPUR - A missing Malaysian jetliner was likely steered deliberately to a course that could have taken it anywhere from central Asia to the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysia's prime minister said on Saturday, in a dramatic revelation that intensified scrutiny of the 239 crew and passengers.

Minutes after Malaysian leader Najib Razak outlined investigators' latest findings about flight MH370 at a news conference, police began searching the house of the aircraft's 53-year-old captain for any evidence that he could have been involved in foul play.

Najib, giving his first statement at a news conference since the day that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER vanished from radar screens a week ago, confirmed reports that investigators believe somebody cut off the plane's communications and steered it west, far from its scheduled route to Beijing.

"In view of this latest development the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board," he said.

"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."

Search operations by navies and aircraft from more than a dozen nations were immediately called off in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea to the east of Malaysia, where the plane dropped off civilian air traffic control screens at 1:22 am last Saturday (1722 GMT on Friday).


The fate of flight MH370 has been shrouded in mystery since it disappeared off Malaysia's east coast less than an hour into its March 8 scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

But investigators have increasingly discounted the possibility of an accident due to the deliberate way it was diverted and had its communications switched off.

Investigative sources told Reuters on Friday they believed the plane was following a commonly used navigational route when it was last spotted early on Saturday, northwest of Malaysia.

Their suspicion has hardened that it was flown off-course by the pilot or co-pilot, or someone else with detailed knowledge of how to fly and navigate a large commercial aircraft.

No details have emerged of any passengers or crew with militant links or psychological problems that could explain a motive for sabotaging the flight.

The experienced captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was a flying enthusiast who spent his off days tinkering with a flight simulator of the plane that he had set up at home, current and former co-workers said. Malaysia Airlines officials did not believe he would have sabotaged the flight.

The 27-year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid was religious and serious about his career, family and friends said, countering news reports suggesting he was a cockpit Romeo who was reckless on the job.

Search has entered a new phase

According to the latest data, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the last confirmed communication between the plane and a satellite was at 8:11 am on March 8. The investigation team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after the last point of contact. “This will help us to refine the search,” Razak said.

The type of data available from the satellite makes it impossible for Malaysian authorities to establish the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite.

Based on the data, aviation authorities in Malaysia, and international counterparts, have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern one, stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern one stretching from Indonesia to the Southern Indian ocean. The investigation team is working to further refine the information.

As for media reports that the plane has been hijacked, the PM said all possibilities continue to be investigated.

Razak said Malaysia is ending its operation in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of assets.

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