KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said here Saturday that investigators have evidence that the missing jet’s communications were deliberately disabled and it turned back from its route to Beijing.
Data suggested “with a high degree of certainty” that the plane’s two automated communication systems were switched off one after the other before it reached the point over the South China Sea where it lost civilian radar contact at 1:30 a.m. on March 8, he said.
The prime minister said the authorities are now trying to trace the airplane across two possible “corridors,” a northern corridor from the border of Kazakstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand, and southern corridor from Indonesia to southern Indian Ocean.
He said the expanded search area is based on the latest available satellite data.
“Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase,”he noted.
But he denied earlier media report that the plane was hijacked. “Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path,” he said.
A massive international search began initially in the South China Sea where the plane’s transponders stopped transmitting. It has since been expanded onto the other side of the Malay Peninsula up into the Andaman Sea and into the Indian Ocean. PNA