Search for Malaysia Airlines aircraft expanded to Indian Ocean

Mystery continues to surround the missing Malaysian Airlines flight; the latest theory suggesting the plane continued to fly for four hours after losing communications.

By Ananth Baliga
Search for Malaysia Airlines aircraft expanded to Indian Ocean
A U.S. Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78, Det 2, assigned to the guided-missile Destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91), lands during a crew swap before returning to the search and rescue for the missing Malaysian airlines flight MH370, March 10, 2014. (File/UPI/Chris D. Boardman/US Navy) | License Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, March 14 (UPI) -- Malaysian Authorities are expanding the search for the missing aircraft west into the Indian Ocean and east into the South China Sea.

The week-long search for Malaysia Airlines MH 370 has generated more rumors and controversy and few substantial clues about the whereabouts of the aircraft. Authorities have been scrambling to find any information about the missing plane, after it veered off course beyond the limits of the country’s radar.


“A normal investigation becomes narrower with time, as new information focuses the search,” Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in Kuala Lumpur today. “But this is not a normal investigation. In this case, the information we have forces us to look further and further afield.”

The Indian Navy has deployed ships in the Indian Ocean to look for the missing aircraft and are working closely with the Malaysian authorities if there is a need for air support.

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"The possible area that has been marked out by Malaysian authorities includes part of the Andamans Sea. We have already deployed two ships to carry out Search and Rescue (SAR) operations there. We are also prepared to launch aircraft to participate in the search," said Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, chief of staff, A&N Command.


Senior U.S. officials have said that data sent via satellite communications system by the Malaysia Airlines aircraft suggest it continued to run for at least four hours after all communication was lost. The additional flight time could put the aircraft somewhere over the Indian Ocean far from its original destination of Beijing.

If the plane flew for four hours after communications were lost it could suggest possible foul play, with U.S. officials saying somebody could have turned off the transponder and radio before flying on.

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“The fact that a modern airplane with a huge amount of redundancy appeared to change course at the same time that the transponder was turned off, that suggests that someone unauthorized took control of that airplane, like an intruder or one of the pilots,” said a U.S. air-crash expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

U.S. officials said that the data does not tell them the direction of the aircraft or whether it simply flew in circles. Malaysian authorities have declined to corroborate or verify this theory.

“We have nothing to confirm at this moment,” Hussein said at the press conference.

RELATED White House says search area expanding for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370

[Washington Post] [Bloomberg] [The Times of India]

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