The search for the missing flight MH370 will now expand to areas beyond Thailand to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in the north and beyond Indonesia in the south after due evidence showed its last contact was at 8.11am north of the Strait of Malacca, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
He said investigations showed the passenger jet's movements and shutdown of communication links were a deliberate act but stopped short of calling it a hijack.
Investigators had confirmed that an aircraft tracked by military radar was the lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, after its communications were likely switched off before it reached the east coast of Malaysia a week ago, Reuters quoted Najib as saying.
Najib said satellite data placed the Boeing 777-200ER (9M-MRO) aircraft in one of two corridors: at the north stretching from northern Thailand to Kazakhstan, or at the south, from Indonesia to southern Indian Ocean.
"Despite media reports the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear, we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate," said Najib, reading out from a statement to a packed press conference.
Several earlier reports had quoted an unnamed Malaysian official as confirming speculation that the jet had been hijacked.
Najib said he was briefed this morning by the investigation team which included the US Federal Aviation Authority, National Transportation Safety Board and Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
"Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (Acars) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the East coast of peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off," he said. – March 15, 2014.