AECNEWS

More Clues and little progress on Malaysian Missing flight

 

Maldives residents saw "low flying plane"of the moring of disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight

Maldives island residents saw "low flying plane" on the morning of disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Maldivian news website Haveeru reported.

Haveeru reported that residents of the remote Maldives island of Kuda Huvadhoo said they saw a "low-flying plane" around 6.15am (Maldivian time) on March 8, the day when the flight disappeared.

It also said the residents reported that that it was a white aircraft, with red stripes across it like the planes operated by Malaysia Airlines.

Eyewitnesses from the Kuda Huvadhoo concurred that the aeroplane was travelling North to South-East, towards the Southern tip of the Maldives -Addu island. They also noted the incredibly loud noise that the flight made when it flew over the island.

Haveeru quoted an eyewitness as saying: "I've never seen a jet flying so low over our island before. We've seen seaplanes, but I' m sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly."

The eyewitness said many other people on the island have also seen the plane.

Mohamed Zaheem, the Island Councilor of Kuda Huvadhoo, said that the residents of the island had spoken about the incident, according to Haveeru.

The Malaysia airlines jet MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing. Investigators say it was deliberately diverted off course.

Malaysian PM speaks to his Pakistani counterpart on missing plane

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday called his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the phone and sought his help in tracing Malaysian airline's missing passenger plane, a senior official said.

"Prime Minister Sharif expressed sympathies with him and assured every possible cooperation," Shujat Azeem, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Aviation, told Dawn newspaper website.

"As per request from Malaysian aviation authorities, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Pakistan has saved entire data of the day and time when the jet went missing and would be sharing it with Malaysian authorities," he said.

"Although there is no evidence that plane headed towards Pakistan but as a goodwill gesture we are sharing our data with Malaysian government," Shujaat Azeem added. Azeem earlier on Saturday had dismissed Western media reports that missing Malaysian airliner might be hidden somewhere in the country.

Pakistan's top aviation official said the CAA has asked Malaysian authorities to send their official to Karachi to look at the data.

Azeem disclosed that Malaysian aviation authorities also spoke with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief Tahir Rafique Butt and sought cooperation in tracing the missing jet.

The special assistant said Malaysian authorities have contacted some 25 countries for their help and cooperation and Pakistan is among such countries.

"India comes before Pakistan, so how it is possible that the plane could have headed towards Pakistan without being tracked by Indian radars," Azeem questioned and added, "what they are looking for is any minor flying object on our radars at that time."

Malaysia has asked many countries, including Pakistan, for help to trace the missing plane.

Meanwhile Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid said that Pakistan's airspace was safe and secure, and that the air traffic control system had picked up no unusual activity with respect to flight MH-370.

Talking to media persons in Islamabad, Rashid said that all data of Pakistan's air traffic control system was available and that nothing was being hidden.

Commenting about the flight, the minister said that there were very few places in Pakistan where a plane of the size of the missing Malaysian airliner could land; these include Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore airports.

The search for the missing jetliner entered its 11th day on Tuesday after Malaysia revealed that the last words heard from the cockpit came from the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, but could not say whether he signed off before or after a communications system was disabled.

Search area for missing MH370 expanded to 2.24 mln sq nautical miles, but little progress made 

The search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had been expanded to 2.24 million square nautical miles (about 7.68 million square km), Malaysia's acting transport minister said Tuesday.

Hishammuddin Hussein, also Malaysia's defence minister, told a press conference the northern and southern search corridors, identified as the plane's likely flight path based on satellite data, were each divided into seven quadrants, with each quadrant covering an area of 160,000 square nautical miles (548,784 square km).

"Our focus is on four tasks: gathering information from satellite surveillance, analysis of surveillance radar data, increasing air and surface assets, and increasing the number of technical and subject matter experts," he said.

 Based on latest information, the search areas - almost as large as Australia - encompass a northern corridor stretching approximately from the borders of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and a southern one from Indonesia deep into the southern Indian Ocean.

"This is an enormous search area. And it is something that Malaysia cannot possibly search on its own. I am therefore very pleased that so many countries have come forward to offer assistance and support to the search and rescue operation," the minister said.

As many as 26 countries have been involved in the search across Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Hishammuddin confirmed the Royal Malaysian Navy on Tuesday deployed two more ships to the southern corridor, which has brought the total number of Malaysian ships to four, with two Super Lynx helicopters also involved.

China's Ministry of Transportation on Tuesday ordered all Chinese vessels in the Gulf of Thailand to transfer their search to the waters southeast of the Bay of Bengal and near the Sunda Strait.

China's largest rescue vessel, Haixun 01, headed toward Singapore Tuesday to join the search.

The vessel is expected to arrive in the waters near Singapore for supplies on Wednesday before dawn before continuing on to join the search in waters near the Sunda Strait.

The 128.6-meter-long vessel, with a displacement of 5,418 tons and a maximum sailing distance of 10,000 nautical miles without refueling, carries advanced equipment such as a helicopter, an underwater robot, black box search instruments, side-scan sonar and a magnetometer.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily press briefing Tuesday that China had deployed more than 10 vessels and 21 satellites to the search, informed 25 countries of latest developments and asked them for help.

Hong said China appreciated those countries' all-out efforts to help.

China has used satellites and radar to search for the missing jet in parts of its own territory covered by the northern corridor, he said.

Regarding the probe into the crew and passengers, the Malaysian minister refused to reveal more details of the ongoing investigation, adding "the search for MH370 is bigger than politics."

A Malaysian daily, Barita Harian, reported earlier Tuesday that police found training programs involving runways at five airports around the Indian Ocean in a flight stimulator recovered by Royal Malaysian Police from the home of the captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

The runways included Male International Airport in the Maldives, a military airport on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and three other runways in India and Sri Lanka, the newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying.

Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said on the same day that background checks on all passengers from the Chinese mainland on board the missing flight had found no evidence of links to sabotage or terrorism.

Those passengers could now be cleared of suspicion in principle, he said.

The ambassador also said, as far as he knew, no group or individual had claimed responsibility for the plane's disappearance or made any political demands.

A multinational search has so far failed to determine the whereabouts of the flight as the search and rescue mission enters its 11th day, and what happened to the plane remains a mystery.

Suicide may be possible motive leads to the flight missing.

The co-pilot of a missing Malaysian jetliner spoke the last words heard from the cockpit, the airline's chief executive said on Monday, as investigators consider suicide by the captain or first officer as one possible explanation for the disappearance.

As now Malaysian police are trawling through the backgrounds of the pilots, flight and ground staff for any clues to a possible motive in what they say is now being treated as a criminal investigation.

Asked if pilot or co-pilot suicide was a line of inquiry,

Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said: "We are looking at it." But it was only one of the possibilities under investigation, he added.

Intensive efforts by various governments to investigate the backgrounds of everyone on the airplane had not, as of Monday, turned up any information linking anyone to militant groups or anyone with a known political or criminal motive to crash or hijack the aircraft, U.S. and European security sources said.

One source familiar with U.S. inquiries into the disappearance said the pilots were being studied because of the technical knowledge needed to disable the ACARS system.

Many experts and officials say while the jet's transponder can be switched off by flicking a switch in the cockpit, turning off ACARS may have required someone to open a trap door outside the cockpit, climb down into the plane's belly and pull a fuse or circuit breaker.

Whoever did so, had to have sophisticated knowledge of the systems on a 777, according to pilots and two current and former U.S. officials close to the investigation.

Thai Air Force radar may have picked up MH 370: ACM Prachin

A Thai Air Force radar station in Surat Thani detected a passenger aircraft that departed from Malaysia but diverted and passed the port city of Butterworth, Malaysia, Thai Air Force's chief ACM Prajin Juntong said Tuesday.

The aircraft could then have flown to the Straits of Malacca, the general said, adding that this information confirmed what Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a press conference concerning the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines' flight MH 370.

However, Prachin said, it has yet to be confirmed whether the aircraft detected by the Surat Thani radar station was actually the missing flight.

He was speaking as Malaysia is seeking the help of governments across a large expanse of Asia in the search for the Boeing 777, which has been missing since March 9 and had 239 people on board. 

Najib said that the plane deliberately diverted from its flight path and new data showed the last communication between the missing plane and satellites, almost seven hours after it turned back and crossed the Malay peninsula.

Prachin said he would have the information handed over to Malaysian Air Force.

Meanwhile caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Tohvichakchaikul said his Malaysian counterpart would call him to talk about cooperation in the search for the missing aircraft.