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Malaysian leader: Flight MH 370 plane's disappearance 'deliberate'



By EILEEN NG and IAN MADER

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - The missing Malaysian jetliner was deliberately diverted and continued flying for more than six hours after losing contact with the ground, meaning it could have gone as far northwest as Kazakhstan or into the Indian Ocean's southern reaches, Malaysia's leader said Saturday.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's statement confirmed days of mounting speculation that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to Beijing more than a week ago was not accidental. It refocused the investigation into the flight's crew and passengers and underlined the massive task for searchers who already have been scouring vast areas of ocean.

"Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase," Najib said at a televised news conference.

Najib stressed that investigators were looking into all possibilities as to why the Boeing 777 deviated so drastically from its original flight path, saying authorities could not confirm whether it was a hijacking. Earlier Saturday, a Malaysian official said the plane had been hijacked, though he added that no motive had been established and no demands had been made known.

"In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board," Najib told reporters, reading from a written statement but not taking any questions.

Police on Saturday drove into the residential compound where the missing plane's pilot lives in Kuala Lumpur, according a guard and several local reporters who were barred from entering the complex. Authorities have said they will investigate the pilots as part of their probe, but have released no information about how they are progressing.

Experts have previously said that whoever disabled the plane's communication systems and then flew the jet must have had a high degree of technical knowledge and flying experience. One possibility they have raised was that one of the pilots wanted to commit suicide.

The plane was carrying 239 people when it departed for an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing at 12:40 a.m. on March 8. Its communications with civilian air controllers were severed at about 1:20 a.m., and the jet went missing - heralding one of the most puzzling mysteries in modern aviation history.

Investigators now have a high degree of certainty that one of the plane's communications systems - the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System - was disabled before the aircraft reached the east coast of Malaysia, Najib said. Shortly afterward, someone on board then switched off the aircraft's transponder, which communicates with civilian air traffic controllers.

Najib then confirmed that Malaysian air force defense radar picked up traces of the plane turning back westward, crossing over Peninsular Malaysia into the northern stretches of the Strait of Malacca. Authorities previously had said this radar data could not be verified.

"These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane," Najib said.

Although the aircraft was flying virtually blind to air traffic controllers at this point, onboard equipment continued to send pings to satellites.

The prime minister said the last confirmed signal between the plane and a satellite came at 8:11 a.m. - 7 hours and 31 minutes after takeoff. This was more than five hours later than the previous time given by Malaysian authorities as the possible last contact.

Airline officials have said the plane had enough fuel to fly for up to about eight hours.

"The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact," Najib said.

He said authorities had determined that the plane's last communication with a satellite was in one of two possible "corridors" - a northern one from northern Thailand through to the border of the Central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and a southern one from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

Searching in the South China Sea, where the plane first lost contact, has ended, Najib said.

Two-thirds of the plane's 227 passengers were Chinese, and China's government has been under pressure to give relatives firm news of the plane's fate.

In a stinging commentary, the Chinese government's Xinhua News Agency accused Malaysia of dragging its feet in releasing information. Information released by the Malaysian leader is "painfully belated," the commentary said. It said delays had resulted in wasted efforts and strained the nerves of relatives.

"Given today's technology, the delay smacks of either dereliction of duty or reluctance to share information in a full and timely manner," Xinhua said. "That would be intolerable."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China had urged Malaysia to release more details about the new search area.

The northern route described by Najib might have taken the plane through a region home to extremist Islamist groups and unstable governments, as well as remote, sparsely populated areas. But the region also hosts U.S. military bases with powerful surveillance capabilities.

Flying south would put the plane over the Indian Ocean, with an average depth of 3,890 meters (12,762 feet) and thousands of kilometers (miles) from the nearest land mass.

Malaysia has faced accusations that it isn't sharing all its information or suspicions about the plane's final movements, which have been the subject of constant media leaks both in Malaysia and the United States. Najib said that he understood the need for families to receive information, but that his government wanted to release only fully corroborated information.

He said that from Day One, the country had been sharing information with international investigators, even when it meant placing "national security concerns" second to the search, a likely reference to its release of military radar data. U.S., British and Malaysian air safety investigators have been on the ground in Malaysia to assist with the investigation.

In the Chinese capital, relatives of passengers who have anxiously awaited news at a hotel near Beijing's airport said they felt deceived at not being told earlier about the plane's last signal. "We are going through a roller coaster, and we feel helpless and powerless," said a woman, who declined to give her name.

At least one of the people waiting at the hotel saw a glimmer of hope in word that the plane's disappearance was a deliberate act, rather than a crash. "It's very good," said the woman, who gave only her surname, Wen.

Malaysian police have already said they are looking at the psychological state, family life and connections of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27. Both have been described as respectable, community-minded men.

Zaharie joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of experience. His Facebook page showed an aviation enthusiast who flew remote-controlled aircraft, posting pictures of his collection, which included a lightweight twin-engine helicopter and an amphibious aircraft.

Fariq was contemplating marriage after having just graduated to the cockpit of a Boeing 777. He has drawn scrutiny after the revelation that in 2011, he and another pilot invited two women aboard their aircraft to sit in the cockpit for a flight from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur.

Fourteen countries are involved in the search, which is using 43 ships and 58 aircraft.

A U.S. P-8A Poseidon, the most advanced long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft in the world, was to arrive over the weekend and sweep parts of the Indian Ocean. It has a nine-member crew and has advanced surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the U.S. Defense Department said in a statement.

Join the discussion

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jareksimek March 15 2014 at 10:17 AM

These turist destination banana countries have no airlines security Who is Kidding Who. And they are incpable of setting up one.

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dyoung5499 March 15 2014 at 9:40 AM

If the plane landed in Iran, Pakistan, or somewhere else, it is probably hidden by now and difficult to find. Best thing is to try to somehow track the passengers. Hopefully one of more of them will be able to get word out as to where they are.

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nnjtickler March 15 2014 at 10:19 AM

has someone checked north korea

Flag Reply +2 rate up
FIESTA & SIESTA March 15 2014 at 10:46 AM

This is so upsetting and chilling to me - I cannot imagine what the passengers have or are going through and the intense feelings of family and friends waiting for information that will make sense to them. God bless them all.

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ALICE March 15 2014 at 9:37 AM

It sure is Heartbreaking. I Pray that they are still alive and found very soon. God Bless Them !!!!I want to think Positive .. I hope everyone will joing me and Pray every day for them !









111

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iversen284 March 15 2014 at 10:44 AM

Apparently according to reports the first thing is that the plane climbed to 45,000 feet. Terrorists have probably come to the conclusion that airline passengers will viciously attack them as Americans have done. They have to stop that for a hijack to succeed, so they climed to 45,000 feet to disable the passengers first. Sooner or later the world powers are going to have to wake up and get together and stomp on terrorists and their training camps properly no matter where they are, before a stipped down airliner flies into one or more of their cities, under radar, with a Nuke on board.

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3 replies
Laurie March 15 2014 at 8:13 AM

It almost seems like Malaysia is its own worst enemy. Despite what other countries tell them they've learned, Malaysia pooh-pooh's their findings until days later. Finally they've agreed that the plane turned around & someone turned off the transponders. In this electronic day and age I find it pretty hard to believe that officials don't have more of a clue in this disappearance. I too wonder why the one gentleman took of his watch and ring - he's a seasoned flyer so the "nervous, anxious" stereotype doesn't fit him. Very importantly, most of the flyers on board were Chinese - very intelligent, useful Chinese. And another idea that won't leave my mind is the fact that most everyone has a cell phone, right? I'm not familiar with how they work when you're thousands of feet above the ground, but if they are able to function, why wasn't even one person able to phone or text family or authorities? My last thought is the fact it takes someone with specific training t o fly a plane competently - if the 2 pilots were not the ones who made the decision to turn west, then I wonder if any of the passengers had any training - especially the two Iranians with false passports. Too many "coincidences", too many odd factors that don't add up.

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2 replies
chrisny79 Laurie March 15 2014 at 8:28 AM

You have been watching too much TV

Flag Reply 0 rate up
chattysparrow Laurie March 15 2014 at 8:42 AM

Sleeping gas...woke up At destination

Flag Reply 0 rate up
dougmdigs March 15 2014 at 10:44 AM

35,00 feet , gain altitude to 46,500. as recorded, Decompress cabin, Kill all except those with oxygen , Dropped back down to 25,000 feet, flew on to destination with only hijackers alive, retrofit plane, use for terrorist activities to kill many more folks, WHY ??????????

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2 replies
Thomas dougmdigs March 15 2014 at 10:51 AM

can't be good, but it shows someone with navigational expertise. most likely both piolts are involved, i think it would be difficult to do all that with 1 person.. don't know, but a single nuke at 50 k feet over the us could create an emp pulse that wipes out our electronics. or just at 1ok feet over a big city, the devastation would be incredible

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lovieperkins dougmdigs March 15 2014 at 11:07 AM

As was said they are taught to kill the infedels of the world and are worse than Hitler... They infiltrated all of Europe, and the states, why ? when Allah calls they wish to take over the world....If this plane is nuclear loaded and flown to destroy USA, it is the end...Allah will rejoice alone! The plane has to be found and destroyed before it becomes a bomb...

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antoniusaurelius March 15 2014 at 8:15 AM

There is a country who is complicit in this mystery. With all of its contribution to the confusion in the search for the missing airliner and prolonging the time searching in the wrong direction, I wouldn't discount Malaysia as one of the many suspect nations along the diverted route the airliner changed to. There has been enough time wasted looking in the wrong place to give the perpetrators of this "possible" hijacking time to make a complete getaway. The Why's and the Who's will be known in time but maybe not in time to save the passengers. Pray for them.

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1 reply
chattysparrow antoniusaurelius March 15 2014 at 8:30 AM

Children aboard as well

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cookie1955pattie March 15 2014 at 10:42 AM

Here is a HORRIBLE scenario to ponder.... this is/was a long range flying plane. Could terrorist have taken control of the plane and flew it to an undisclosed destination.... to later use it in another 911 type attack? Maybe terrorist are gathering planes for a mission... far fetched I know BUT you never know what someone like that is thinking or planning. I hate to think of the fate of the crew and passangers if something like this was happening. AND if this is possible will it be the last " disappearing" plane? This was the result of a dinner discussion last night at a local restaurant. At first I thought " NO WAY" but during the night I kept pondering this scenario. Whatever has happened to this plane I send my thoughts and prayers to the families and the people on board. This is tragic. I hope the answers are found to this mystery. The families deserve to know what happened to their loved ones.

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