Saturday, July 4, 2015

Missing Malaysian jet most likely in Southern Indian Ocean, source says

0 comments
A foam plane with messages and other cards with personalized messages dedicated to people involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, is placed at the viewing gallery at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Saturday, March 15, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. The Malaysian passenger jet missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about seven and a half hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or deep in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A foam plane with messages and other cards with personalized messages dedicated to people involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, is placed at the viewing gallery at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Saturday, March 15, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. The Malaysian passenger jet missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about seven and a half hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or deep in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A foam plane with messages and other cards with personalized messages dedicated to people involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, is placed at the viewing gallery at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Saturday, March 15, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. The Malaysian passenger jet missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about seven and a half hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or deep in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) Gallery: Missing Malaysian jet most likely in Southern Indian Ocean, source says

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Investigators probing the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner with 239 people on board believe it most likely flew into the southern Indian Ocean, a source close to the investigation said on Wednesday.

No wreckage has been found from Flight MH370, which vanished from air traffic control screens off Malaysia's east coast at 1:21 a.m. local time on March 8 (1721 GMT March 7), less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

An unprecedented search for the Boeing 777-200ER is under way involving 26 nations in two vast search "corridors": one arcing north overland from Laos towards the Caspian Sea, the other curving south across the Indian Ocean from west of Indonesia's Sumatra island to west of Australia.

"The working assumption is that it went south, and furthermore that it went to the southern end of that corridor," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

More coverage
  • Veteran pilot's theory on missing plane goes viral
  • The view is based on the lack of any evidence from countries along the northern corridor that the plane entered their airspace, and the failure to find any trace of wreckage in searches in the upper part of the southern corridor.

    China, which is leading the northern corridor search with Kazakhstan, said it had not yet found any sign of the aircraft crossing into its territory.

    Malaysian and U.S. officials believe the aircraft was deliberately diverted perhaps thousands of miles off course, but an exhaustive background search of the passengers and crew aboard has not yielded anything that might explain why.

    SOPHISTICATED EQUIPMENT

    The minister in charge of the operation said the multinational search team was deploying the most sophisticated equipment available to find the plane.

    "It probably is the largest peacetime armada of assets and satellite information-sharing that we have ever seen for a rescue and search operation," Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.

    Officials believe that someone with detailed knowledge of both the Boeing 777 and commercial aviation navigation switched off two vital datalinks: the ACARS system, which relays maintenance data back to the ground, and the transponder, which enables the plane to be seen by civilian radar.

    The source close to the investigation said that it was thought "highly probable that ACARS was switched off prior to the final verbal message" received for the cockpit.

    That message, an informal "all right, good night" radioed to Malaysian air traffic controllers to acknowledge their handover of the plane to Vietnamese airspace, was believed to have been spoken by the co-pilot, the airline said earlier this week.

    Investigators piecing together patchy data from military radar and satellites believe that minutes later the plane turned sharply west, re-crossing the Malay Peninsula and following an established commercial route towards India.

    After that, ephemeral pings picked up by one commercial satellite suggest the aircraft flew on for at least six hours. The data from the satellite placed the plane somewhere in one of the two corridors when the final signal was sent at 8:11 a.m.

    The methodical shutdown of the communications systems, together with the fact that the plane appeared to be following a planned course after turning back, have been interpreted as suggesting strongly that foul play, rather than some kind of technical failure, was behind the disappearance.

    NEVER FOUND?

    Last week, a source familiar with official U.S. assessments said it was thought most likely the plane flew south, where it presumably would have run out of fuel and crashed into the sea.

    If it did indeed end up in the southern Indian Ocean, one of the remotest places on Earth and also one of the deepest seas, it increases the chance it may never be found - and investigators may never know for sure what happened on board.

    U.S. government sources said intelligence agencies had extensively analyzed people on the flight but came up with no connections to terrorism or possible criminal motives.

    A senior U.S. official said he was "not aware of any stones left unturned". China has said there is no evidence that Chinese passengers, who made up over two-thirds of those on board, were involved in a hijack or act of sabotage.

    Australia is leading the search of the southern part of the southern corridor, with assistance from the U.S. Navy.

    It has shrunk its search field based on satellite tracking data and analysis of weather and currents, but it still covers an area of 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq miles), roughly the size of Spain and Portugal.

    The U.S. Navy said it had switched mainly to using P-8A Poseidon and P-3 Orion aircraft to search for the missing plane instead of ships and helicopters.

    "The maritime patrol aircraft are much more suited for this type of operation," said Navy Lieutenant David Levy, who is on board the USS Blue Ridge. "...It's just a much more efficient way to search."

     

    (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi, Siva Govindasamy, Michael Martina and Niluksi Koswanage in Kuala Lumpur, Andrea Shalal-Esa and Mark Hosenball in Washington, Jane Wardell in Sydney, Peter Apps in London, Daniel Bosley in Male and Shihar Aneez in Colombo; Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Nick Macfie)

    Reuters
    0 comments
    We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
    Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

    Comment policy:

    Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

    Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

    Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

    Read 0 comments
     
    comments powered by Disqus
    Also on Philly.com
    letter icon Newsletter