China asks Malaysia to 'tell the truth' about missing jet MH370
Annoyed over the discrepancies found in explanations about the missing plane, China asked Malaysia to verify rumours and share all information about the flight MH370. Missing jet may have strayed toward Andaman Sea; India joins search | Full CoverageUpdated: Mar 13, 2014 16:25 IST
Malaysian officials on Wednesday defended their handling of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Here are some discrepancies in statements they have made since the plane disappeared early Saturday with 239 people on board:
TIME OF DISAPPEARANCE
Malaysia Airlines initially said the Boeing 777 lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40am after about two hours in the air. It later said contact was lost at 1:30am, as data on flight tracking websites had been showing. The incorrect time report led to speculation the flight had crashed somewhere between Vietnam and China.
DID THE FLIGHT TURN BACK?
The government said on the day of the plane's disappearance that there were indications it attempted to turn back, but didn't say what they were. After days of confusion and suggestions authorities were looking in the wrong place, military officials explained Wednesday they had spotted images of what might be the plane on air defense radar recordings indicating it might have turned around, but they were inconclusive.
Officials initially said four or five passengers had checked in for the flight but did not board, and their luggage had to be taken off the plane before it departed for Beijing. This fueled speculation that terrorism might have caused the crash. On Wednesday, officials said some people with reservations never checked in and were simply replaced by standby passengers, and no baggage was removed.
Read: Indian govt not in touch with us, says husband of Chennai woman aboard missing MH370
Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi initially described two men who boarded the plane with stolen passports as having Asian features, which was contradicted a day later by the civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, who created confusion with remarks that could have been taken to indicate they were black. The men were later identified by Interpol as Iranian. Malaysian police released photos of the men with identical legs, which turned out to be digitally manipulated. Police said this was an oversight and was not done to mislead.
Timeline: The search for missing Malaysian jet
China to Malaysia: Tell the truth about missing plane
Annoyed over the discrepancies found in explanations about the missing plane, China asked Malaysia to verify rumours and share all information about the flight MH370 after official admission that it may have turned back and disappeared over the Straits of Malacca.
"We have send requests to the Malaysian side through diplomatic channels, asking them to check up on rumours right away and inform China of all information available," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.
Qin's remark came after a Malaysian military official said the missing flight may have changed route and turned back from its scheduled course before disappearing last Saturday.
Anxieties mounted in China as 154 of the 227 passengers are Chinese and their relatives are annoyed over the confusion and lack of progress even five days after the incident.
Malaysia Air Force Chief Rodzali Daud had said a "blip" detected on the military radar may have been the missing flight MH370 in an area northwest of Penang in the Straits of Malacca, amid uncertainty over where to look for the plane that disappeared with 239 people on board.
Based on this possibility, multinational search operation was expanded to the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea with more countries joining in the mission.
Full coverage: Missing Malaysian Airline flight MH370
Forty-two ships and 39 aircraft have been deployed so far in the hunt for the missing plane that vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
It is still not known what prompted this confusion and why Malaysian officials has to suppress this information. If it is true it also throws up a whole lot of questions including why the plane took a U turn and flew over Malacca straights without informing the ground controls.
Malaysian officials said so far there is nothing to point out to any act of terrorism and cleared two Iranians who travelled by stolen Italian and Austrian passports.
Pictures: Malaysian airliner mystery deepens
Read: Conflicting information on plane's course 'pretty chaotic', says China
India, Japan and Brunei were the latest to join in a massive search mission.
When asked by state-run Xinhua news agency about reports that dead bodies were found near Penang, Qin said he could not verify this.
Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited the emergency response and command centre here to learn the latest about the search operation.
The Chinese team is now expanding their search area to northwest of the Gulf of Thailand, covering some 17 thousand square km in total.
China has also employed 10 satellites to provide technological support to locate the missing jet.
Also China today termed reports of its planes searching Malaysian territory for clues as "inaccurate" as the search operations extended to waters around Andaman islands.
"Relevant reports of Chinese search in Malaysia is inaccurate. As far as I know, Chinese aircraft are searching possible waters. So I would like to make a clarification here," Qin told a media briefing earlier.
He was reacting to comments by Chairman of China's Civil Aviation Administration Li Jiaxiang that search would be extended to land areas.
Read: Malaysia seeks India's help in search for MH370
(PTI and AP inputs)
First Published: Mar 13, 2014 00:39 IST