Prime Minister: ‘Deliberate Action’ Disabled Missing Jet Transponder

March 15, 2014

Malaysia’s prime minister says he is now certain that someone disabled the communication systems on the passenger jet that disappeared last week with 239 people aboard.

The missing Malaysia Airliner flew more than six and a half hours after its last communication with air traffic control, Malaysia’s Prime minister Najib Razak said in a news conference early Saturday.

“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” Razak said.

As NPR’s Frank Langfitt reports, Razak says the plane was either on a path towards the southern Indian Ocean or Central Asia.

MH370’s last communication came at 1:30 last Saturday morning, but the plane continued to send signals to satellites until 8:11 a.m., the prime minister said.

The plane could have continued beyond that time, but would have been close to running out of fuel, the Washington Post reported.

Satellite data did not provide a precise location, but Razak said the last signal came along a southern flight corridor from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean or along “a northern corridor stretching from border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand.”

Razak would not address reports the plane had been hijacked, but said investigators are refocusing on the passengers and crew.

Malaysia is now requesting radar data from the various countries the plane may have passed through.

The investigation has now focused on the crew and passengers, Razak said.

“Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear we are still investigating all possibilities for what led Malaysian Air Flight 370 to deviate from its flight path,” he said.

A U.S. official told the Post that the plane’s data flow and transponder communications stopped at different points in the flight, indicated that they were not shut down by a crash or explosion but deliberate tampering.

“”They both did stop, and they did not stop simultaneously,” the Post quoted the unnamed official. “A simultaneous stopping is something that we have seen before in in-flight breakups, airplanes that have exploded or come apart in the air.”

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