World News

Malaysia Military Denies Tracking Missing Jetliner Far from Intended Path

The Malaysian military is backing away from reports that it tracked a missing passenger jet far away from its intended flight path, casting further doubt on the whereabouts of the plane and its 239 people on board.

In a statement Wednesday, Air Force chief Rodzali Daud said he could not rule out that the Malaysia Airlines jetliner veered drastically off course. But he said a media report that claimed the military tracked the jet over the Strait of Malacca was "clearly an inaccurate and incorrect report."

The Strait of Malacca is off the west coast of the Malaysia peninsula and is hundreds of kilometers from where civilian air traffic controllers lost contact with the Boeing 777. The initial search for the plane had focused mainly on the South China Sea, which lies off the east coast.

If the plane did make it to the Strait of Malacca, it would call into question theories that the jet experienced some sort of sudden catastrophic event shortly after takeoff that prevented pilots from communicating with authorities.

The plane disappeared from civilian radar without any distress calls about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing early Saturday, when weather conditions appeared to be clear.



As the search entered the fifth day, many relatives of those on the plane are growing frustrated with a lack of answers and sometimes contradictory information from the Malaysian government.

After meeting with Malaysian government representatives Wednesday in Beijing, one family member, who identified herself as Ms. Li, said she does not feel sufficiently informed.



"I'm not very satisfied (with the meeting). There are many things that have still not been clearly explained and they still haven't met our requests."



China's government also said Wednesday that the conflicting information on the plane's course was "pretty chaotic."

Meanwhile, new allegations arose concerning past behavior of one of the plane's pilots. A South African woman, Jonti Roos, told Australia's Channel Nine TV the plane's first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid, invited her and another woman into the cockpit on a flight two years ago.

Roos shared several pictures that appear to show her posing with Fariq and his co-pilot. She said the men talked and flirted with her for the entire flight from Thailand to Kuala Lumpur in December 2011.

In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said it was "shocked" by the allegations, which it said it takes "very seriously." The airline said it has not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures.

Malaysian officials have been exploring scenarios of what may have brought down the jet, including an explosion, hijackers, pilot error or mechanical failure.

At the Kuala Lumpur International Airport where the plane took off, many passengers were jittery. One passenger, Johan, said he is more concerned for the families of those on board the missing jet.



"I think the family members need to be strong with regard, you know, while waiting, although it's a very long wait, but they have to be strong and hope for the best because we still have no clues even at this point."



Aerospace expert Wayne Plucker tells VOA he believes the Boeing 777 jet eventually will be found but that it might take some time.



"This may be a while. Remember that the Air France plane that went down off of Brazil (in 2009), it took quite awhile even though there was apparent wreckage on the surface. "



Plucker said the Boeing 777 has had a good safety record.



"There's nothing that points a finger at a problem. Malaysian Airlines has a good history of maintenance."



About two-thirds of the people on board were Chinese nationals, with the remainder from other Asian countries, Europe and North America.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs