Missing Malaysian airliner: Focus back on crew, passengers

Luigi MaraldiKuala Lumpur:  Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday that the communications system of the Malaysia Airlines jet that went missing March 8 was disabled just before it reached the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.

“Based on new satellite communication, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the aircraft communications, addressing and reporting system were disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of peninsular Malaysia,” he said at a press conference here.

“Shortly afterward, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

From this point onwards, the Malaysia air force radar data showed an aircraft, which was believed but not confirmed to be the missing jet, did indeed turn back, and flew in a westerly direction, back over peninsular Malaysia before turning northwest, Xinhua quoted Razak as saying.

“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” he added.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board mysteriously vanished about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur early morning March 8. The Boeing 777-200ER was initially presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea.

The plane took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 a.m. March 8 and was due to land in Beijing at 6.30 a.m. the same day. The 227 passengers on the flight included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

Contact with the plane was lost along with its radar signal at 1.40 a.m. March 8 when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.


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