Jet search expands north, south; mystery persists - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Jet search expands north, south; mystery persists

Posted: Updated:
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -

The search for the missing Malaysian jet pushed deep into the northern and southern hemispheres Monday as Australia scoured the southern Indian Ocean and China offered 21 satellites to respond to Malaysia's call for help in the unprecedented hunt.

French investigators arriving in Kuala Lumpur to lend expertise from the two-year search for an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 said they were able to rely on distress signals. But that vital tool is missing in the Malaysia Airlines mystery because flight 370's communications were deliberately severed ahead of its disappearance more than a week ago, investigators say.

"It's very different from the Air France case. The Malaysian situation is much more difficult," said Jean Paul Troadec, a special adviser to France's aviation accident investigation bureau.

Malaysian authorities say the jet carrying 239 people was intentionally diverted from its flight path during an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 and flew off-course for several hours. Suspicion has fallen on the pilots, although Malaysian officials have said they are looking into everyone aboard the flight.

Malaysian police confiscated a flight simulator from the pilot's home on Saturday and also visited the home of the co-pilot in what Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar initially said was the first police visits to those homes. But the government -- which has come under criticism abroad for missteps and foot-dragging in their release of information -- issued a statement Monday contradicting that account by saying police first visited the pilots' homes as early as March 9, the day after the flight.

Investigators haven't ruled out hijacking, sabotage, pilot suicide or mass murder, and they are checking the backgrounds of all 227 passengers and 12 crew members, as well as the ground crew, to see if links to terrorists, personal problems or psychological issues could be factors.

For now, though, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said finding the plane was still the main focus, and he did not rule out finding it intact.

"The fact that there was no distress signal, no ransom notes, no parties claiming responsibility, there is always hope," Hishammuddin said at a news conference.

Malaysian Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said an initial investigation indicated that the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, spoke the fight's last words -- "All right, good night" -- to ground controllers. Had it been a voice other than that of Fariq or the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, it would have clearest indication yet of something amiss in the cockpit before the flight went off-course.

Malaysian officials earlier said those words came after one of the jetliner's data communications systems -- the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System -- had been switched off, sharpening suspicion that one or both of the pilots may have been involved in the plane's disappearance.

However, Ahmad said Monday that while the last data transmission from ACARS -- which gives plane performance and maintenance information -- came before that, it was still unclear at what point the system was switched off. That opened the possibility that both ACARS and the plane's transponders -- which make the plane visible to civilian air traffic controllers -- were severed later and at about the same time. It also suggests that the all-clear message delivered from the cockpit could have preceded any of the severed communications.

Although Malaysian authorities requested that all nations with citizens aboard the flight conduct background checks on them, it wasn't clear how thoroughly they were conducting such checks at home. The father of a Malaysian aviation engineer aboard the plane, Mohamad Khairul Amri Selamat, 29, said police had not approached anyone in the family about his son, though he added that there was no reason to suspect him.

"It is impossible for him to be involved in something like this," said the father, Selamat Omar, 60. "He is a good boy ... We are keeping our hopes high. I am praying hard that the plane didn't crash and that he will be back soon."

Malaysia's government in the meantime sent out diplomatic cables to all countries in the search area, seeking more planes and ships for the search, as well as to ask for any radar data that might help narrow the task.

Some 26 countries are involved in the search, which initially focused on seas on either side of peninsular Malaysia, in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca.

Over the weekend, however, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that investigators determined that a satellite picked up a faint signal from the aircraft about 7 1/2 hours after takeoff. The signal indicated the plane would have been somewhere on a vast arc stretching from Kazakhstan down to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Hishammuddin said Monday that searches in both the northern and southern stretches of the arc had begun, and that countries from Australia up north to China and west to Kazakhstan had joined the hunt.

Had the plane gone northwest to Central Asia, it would have crossed over countries with busy airspace, and some experts believe it more likely would have gone south, although Malaysian authorities are not ruling out the northern corridor and are eager for radar data that might confirm or rule out that path.

The northern corridor crosses through countries including China, India and Pakistan -- all of which have said they have seen no sign of the plane. China, where two thirds of the passengers were from, is providing several planes and 21 satellites for the search, Premier Li Keqiang said in a statement.

"Factors involved in the incident continue to multiply, the area of search and rescue continues to broaden, and the level of difficulty increases, but as long as there is one thread of hope, we will continue an all-out effort," Li said.

To the south, Indonesia focused on Indian Ocean waters west of Sumatra, air force spokesman Rear Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto said.

Australia agreed to Malaysia's request to take the lead in scouring the southern Indian Ocean with four Orion maritime planes that also would be joined by New Zealand and U.S. planes, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

"Australia will do its duty in this matter," Abbott told Parliament in Australia. "We will do our duty to the families of the 239 people on that aircraft who are still absolutely devastated by their absence, and who are still profoundly, profoundly saddened by this as yet unfathomed mystery."

The southern Indian Ocean is the world's third-deepest and one of the most remote stretches of water in the world, with little radar coverage.

Planes will be searching for any signs of the kind of debris that might float to the surface in a crash. Ahmad, the Malaysia Airlines CEO, said the plane had no unusual cargo, though he said it was carrying several tons of mangosteens, a purple tropical fruit.

  • U.S. & World NewsMore>>

  • Nazi war suspect, 89, dies as extradition OK'd

    Nazi war suspect, 89, dies as extradition OK'd

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 2:22 PM EDT2014-07-23 18:22:29 GMT
    The lawyer for a suspected Nazi war crimes suspect says the 89-year-old Philadelphia man has died while awaiting extradition to Germany.[more]
    An 89-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect died in custody hours before a U.S. ruling Wednesday that he should be extradited to Germany to face trial.[more]
  • With GOP runoff over, Perdue and Nunn face off

    With GOP runoff over, Perdue and Nunn face off

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:44 PM EDT2014-07-23 17:44:24 GMT
    Now that Georgia Republicans have settled on businessman David Perdue as their nominee for the state's open Senate seat, the real battle begins with a marquee match-up in the fall against Democrat Michelle Nunn...[more]
    Within hours of David Perdue's GOP Senate nomination, he and Democrat Michelle Nunn launched the real battle for Georgia's open Senate seat with attack ads in a matchup that could help settle control of the Senate.[more]
  • Porch shooter's lawyer says he feared for his life

    Porch shooter's lawyer says he feared for his life

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 1:43 PM EDT2014-07-23 17:43:48 GMT
    After two days of jury selection, lawyers are poised to give opening statements in the trial of a Detroit-area man who opened his front door and shot an unarmed woman, killing her.[more]
    A suburban Detroit man who killed an unarmed woman on his porch was rocked out of sleep by a series of "boom, boom, boom" pounding sounds outside his home, causing him to grab a shotgun, open the front door and fire, a...[more]
  • Stay Connected

  • Like Us on Facebook
  • Follow Us on Twitter
Powered by WorldNow

WHDH TV 7NBC WLVI TV CW56
Sunbeam Television Corp
7 Bulfinch Place
Boston, MA 02114

News Tips: (800) 280-TIPS
Tell Hank: (855) 247-HANK
Corporate Media Services: (800) 642-1551

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WHDH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.