News / Asia

    Malaysia Airlines Probe Refocuses on Crew, Passengers

    Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses reporters about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, March 15, 2014.
    Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses reporters about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, March 15, 2014.
    Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak, says there is a "high degree of certainty" someone deliberately shut off the communications systems on the missing Malaysian jetliner, but he stopped short of saying the plane was hijacked.

    The frustrating search for Flight 370 now ranges from Kazakhstan to the southern Indian Ocean, and investigators say the plane had enough fuel to fly for several hours after disappearing from radar Saturday, March 8.

    Najib's remarks on Saturday triggered a new flood of speculation into what caused the Boeing 777 to vanish from civilian radar soon after taking off. His comments followed witness accounts of Kuala Lumpur police visits to the homes of the pilot and co-pilot Saturday.

    Officials had no comment about the police visits.

    Najib said somewhere near the Malaysian border the plane's transponder was switched off, before the jet veered westward in a fashion "consistent with deliberate action."

    "The Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar data showed that an aircraft, which was believed, but not confirmed to be MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over peninsula Malaysia before turning northwest," he said.

    The prime minister said despite media reports of a hijacking, Malaysian authorities are looking into all possibilities of what might have caused the flight to deviate from its original path. He said officials are refocusing their investigation on the crew and passengers.

    Najib said signals between the Malaysia Airlines plane and a satellite continued more than six-and-a-half hours after primary contact with the jet was lost.

    He said authorities are now trying to trace the plane in two possible corridors: one from the border of Kazakhstan to northern Thailand, and the other south to the southern Indian Ocean. He said search efforts in the South China Sea are ending.

    The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has led to one of aviation's most puzzling mysteries.

    Speculation has been rampant about what caused the plane's disappearance, including mechanical failure, a hijacking, terrorism or pilot intent to commit suicide.

    A Royal Malaysian Navy's missile corvette and an offshore patrol vessel are seen during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airliner over the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, March 13, 2014.A Royal Malaysian Navy's missile corvette and an offshore patrol vessel are seen during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airliner over the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, March 13, 2014.
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    A Royal Malaysian Navy's missile corvette and an offshore patrol vessel are seen during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airliner over the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, March 13, 2014.
    A Royal Malaysian Navy's missile corvette and an offshore patrol vessel are seen during a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airliner over the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia, March 13, 2014.
    Dozens of ships and planes from about 15 countries have contributed to the search for the aircraft, which had 239 people on board.  It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared.

    U.S. officials have said the jet may have crashed into the Indian Ocean. Indian military aircraft have flown in the Indian Ocean over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands — more than 500 mostly uninhabited, heavily forested land masses.

    About two-thirds of the people on board the missing flight were Chinese. Other passengers included Europeans and Americans.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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    Comments
         
    by: mary from: seagoville
    March 16, 2014 7:49 AM
    Chris, the Iranians were the same two men that had the stolen passports. Those passports were on the Interpol list of stolen passports but the airline did not bother to check the passports. Personally, I think they could be in Pakistan... but who knows. If they intended to blow the plane up, they would have wanted everyone to know. So it probably was a form of hijacking, unless an accident occurred during the hijacking and they are at the bottom of the ocean, we should hear more of the passengers. Prehaps a ransom note... but I think it is likely the plane is at the bottom of the ocean. A failed hijacking... Pakistan...

    by: john w burns from: usa
    March 16, 2014 7:21 AM
    so they stopped short of calling it a terrorist act. sounds like something the Obama administration and the American mainstream media would do. they won't face up to the fact that muslins are not to be trusted. if I was getting on a plane and saw anything remotely muslin, I would depart.

    by: larisa from: tobago
    March 16, 2014 7:15 AM
    I feel the bombular triangle hv taken the plane cuz they say someone spotted the mh370 next to the triangle

    by: Qaiser Javed from: UK
    March 16, 2014 7:12 AM
    Had MH370 enough fuel to fly Bermuda Triangle?

    by: chris from: Norway
    March 15, 2014 4:02 PM
    Inconsistencies and contradictions; from stolen passports to demonizing black men, then later to Iranians and now on crew and passengers. Why don't you shut up your mouth or talk constructively as a wise man should do and inject more effort in locating where the airplane has plunged and examine the black box when it is found?

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 15, 2014 10:05 AM
    DIDN'T I say from day one, "LOOK for the plane on an airfield in Burma or Thailand" .. (BUT NOW?) .. that 777 could have landed and refueled in Burma or Thailand, and gone on to Somalia, Yemen, or some other unknown destination..
    OVERLOOKED? ... LOOK for the ship that was in the area the day before the oil slick was located, that might have participated in the hijacking.. ......... REALLY

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