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Malaysia Denies Missing Plane Flew 4 Hours After Last Contact

Malaysian officials have denied reports that a missing passenger jet continued flying for hours after its last known contact, and say Chinese satellite images do not depict any debris from the aircraft.

Transportation Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said Thursday that Malaysian Airlines (MAS) asked plane maker Boeing and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce about purported data showing the plane could have flown an extra 4,000 kilometers over four hours.



"Since today's media report, MAS has asked Rolls Royce and Boeing specifically about the data. As far Rolls Royce and Boeing are concerned, those reports are inaccurate."



The report by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday cited the belief of U.S. officials based on data that is automatically sent by the plane's engines to the ground.

The Chinese satellite images emerged Wednesday, with state media saying they showed three fairly large objects near the plane's original flight path toward Beijing.

Malaysian and Vietnamese search planes went over the area in the South China Sea on Thursday and found nothing.

Hussein said Malaysia later contacted the Chinese Embassy, which said the images were released by mistake and did not show any debris from the plane.



He said the Boeing 777 plane was "fit to fly," with its last inspection in February and its next one not due until June.

He also praised the ongoing search effort, which involves more than 80 ships and aircraft from 12 countries looking in an area that covers 93,000 square kilometers on either side of Malaysia.



"The overwhelming support and unprecedented effort on a multinational level, that is something that we should be very proud about, though we need to find the aircraft."



There were 239 people on board Flight 370 when it disappeared Saturday less than an hour into a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Malaysian air traffic controllers did not receive any messages indicating the plane may have been in trouble, and said their communications with the pilots were routine.

Malaysia's military said Wednesday its radar had picked up signs of what could have been a jet flying to the west of the country over the Malacca Strait about an hour after the last contact with Flight 370. If the radar data is from the Malaysian Air flight, the plane would have taken a sharp westward turn to reach that area.

Malaysia has shared the raw radar data with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

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