KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Sunday rejected claims that phone calls were made from missing flight MH370 before it vanished, but refused to rule out any possibility in a so far fruitless investigation over the cause of the jet’s disappearance.
The New Straits Times, quoting an anonymous source, had reported on Saturday that co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid made a call which ended abruptly, possibly “because the aircraft was fast moving away from the [telecommunications]tower.”
There had also been unconfirmed reports of calls by the Malaysia Airlines plane’s captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah before or during the flight. Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters on Sunday that authorities had no knowledge of any calls made from the jet’s cockpit.
“As far as I know, no,” he said when asked if any calls had been made. However, he added that he did not want to speculate on “the realm of the police and other international agencies” investigating the case.
“I do not want to disrupt the investigations that are being done now not only by the Malaysian police but the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], MI6, Chinese intelligence and other intelligence agencies,” he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Hishammuddin also said no passenger on the plane had been cleared in the criminal investigation into the fate of the flight, clarifying an earlier indication from Malaysia’s police chief.
Pilots Fariq and Zaharie have also come under intense scrutiny since the plane vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board on March 8, with still no clue as to the cause of the disappearance.
Investigators last month indicated that the flight was deliberately diverted and its communication systems manually switched off as it was leaving Malaysian airspace, triggering a criminal investigation by police which has revealed little so far.
A number of theories have been put forward, including hijacking, a terrorist plot or a pilot gone rogue, with authorities grasping at straws as to the fate of the plane without crucial data from the jet’s “black box,” which has yet to be located, and no wreckage found.
Several sonic ‘pings’ which authorities have said are consistent with a black box have been detected by ships in the search area in the remote southern Indian Ocean, off the west coast of Australia.
But Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is leading the search for the plane, said on Sunday that another 24 hours had passed without a confirmed signal, increasing fears that batteries in the beacons attached to the plane’s two black boxes may now have run flat.
The last pings were detected on Tuesday.