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MISSING MH370: Search area widens
Publication Date : 15-03-2014
Expands westward to the mainland Indian coastline and further east into the South China Sea
The search for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, which enters its second week today, has expanded westward to the mainland Indian coastline and further east into the South China Sea.
On why the search has been widened, Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said: "This is not a normal investigation... The information we have forces us to look farther and farther afield."
In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said yesterday some new information "that's not necessarily conclusive" may prompt a new search area to be opened in the Indian Ocean. The search now involves 57 ships and 48 aircraft from 13 countries.
"It is disturbing that #MH370 is still missing after a week," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on Facebook last night. "The families of the passengers and crew must be distraught with anxiety and grief... Wrote today to (Malaysian) PM Najib Razak and (Chinese) Premier Li Keqiang to express solidarity and offer support."
Since Thursday, India alone has deployed six warships and five aircraft to assist in the massive operation, covering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
Malaysia has refused to confirm reports of evidence indicating that the Beijing-bound plane could have flown as far as the Indian Ocean, in the opposite direction of its original flight path.
Speculation is mounting that a hijacking or pilot involvement was behind the plane's abrupt change of course. It was also reported that satellites picked up faint electronic pulses from the jetliner for hours after it vanished.
However, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin declined to be drawn into commenting on unverified information. "I cannot confirm there is no hijacking. As I said from the start, and I have been very consistent, we are looking at all possibilities," he said.
The search began in the South China Sea before it was expanded to cover the Strait of Malacca after Malaysia's military radar detected an unidentified aircraft that could have been MH370 in a location about 322km north-west of Penang. It has not been positively identified as the MAS plane.
Then media reports quoted unidentified sources as saying radar recordings showed that the plane might have headed west towards India's Andaman islands.
Asked about the aircraft transponder that had stopped communicating with air traffic control, Mr Hishammuddin said there could be many reasons for it. It could have been turned off intentionally or under duress, or been damaged in an explosion.
"Until today, we know the transponder did not release any signal to us. Whether it was deliberately shut off, or other possibilities, we are investigating."