RSS
 Add News     Print  
Article List
Police hunt for motive in plane search Probe covers all 239 passengers

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16, (Agencies): Malaysian investigators are trawling through the backgrounds of the pilots, crew and ground staff who worked on a missing jetliner for clues as to why someone on board flew it perhaps thousands of miles off course, the country’s police chief said. Background checks of passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 have drawn a blank, but not every country whose nationals were on board has responded to requests for information, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told a news conference on Sunday. No trace of the Boeing 777-200ER has been found since it vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, but investigators believe it was diverted by someone who knew how to switch off its communications and tracking systems.

Malaysia briefed envoys from nearly two dozen nations and appealed for international help in the search for the plane along two arcs stretching from the shores of Caspian Sea to the far south of the Indian Ocean. “The search area has been significantly expanded,” said Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. “From focusing mainly on shallow seas, we are now looking at large tracts of land, crossing 11 countries, as well as deep and remote oceans.” The plane’s disappearance has baffled investigators and aviation experts. It vanished from civilian air traffic control screens off Malaysia’s east coast less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing. Malaysian authorities believe that as the plane crossed the country’s northeast coast and flew across the Gulf of Thailand, someone on board shut off its communications systems and turned sharply to the west. Electronic signals it continued to exchange periodically with satellites suggest it could have continued flying for nearly seven hours after flying out of range of Malaysian military radar off the country’s northwest coast, heading towards India.

The plane had enough fuel to fly for about seven-and-a-half to eight hours, Malaysian Airlines’ Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said. Malaysian officials briefed ambassadors from 22 countries on the progress of the investigation and appealed for international cooperation, diplomats said on Sunday. Although countries have been coordinating individually, the broad formal request marked a new diplomatic phase in a search operation thought increasingly likely to rely on the sharing of sensitive material such as military radar data. “The meeting was for us to know exactly what is happening and what sort of help they need. It is more for them to tell us, ‘please put in all your resources’,” T.S. Tirumurti, India’s high commissioner to Malaysia, told Reuters. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also telephoned his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, to ask for Indian help corroborating possible paths taken by the jet, an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman said. Malaysian police said they had searched the homes of both pilots and examined the captain’s home flight simulator after it became increasingly clear that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that vanished March 8 had been deliberately diverted by someone on board.

Experts said it would have taken specialist knowledge to disable the communications system, intensifying scrutiny of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his First Officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid. US intelligence is also focusing on the pilot and co-pilot, a key US lawmaker said. “One thing we do know, this was not an accident. It was an intentional, deliberate act, to bring down this airplane. And the question is who is behind that,” Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News. Friends and colleagues of both pilots have testified to their good character, but questions have been raised over the flight simulator Zaharie installed at home — even though aviation commentators have said this is not uncommon. It also emerged that Zaharie had close ties with the party of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has been battling a charge of sodomy. A day before the flight, a Malaysian court overturned Anwar’s 2012 acquittal on charges he sodomised a male former aide and sentenced him to five years in jail. But authorities have not disclosed whether Zaharie’s political affiliations figured in the investigation. Fariq’s record was queried after a woman said he had allowed her and a friend to ride in the cockpit of an earlier flight. Hishammuddin noted that the two pilots “did not ask to fly together” on the missing plane.

Read By: 1803
Comments: 0
Rated:

Comments
You must login to add comments ...
About Us   |   RSS   |   Contact Us   |   Feedback   |   Advertise With Us