Missing Malaysian jet was flying toward Andaman Islands: source

Another twist to the tale of the missing Malaysian airlines flight was added on Friday with reports saying it could have been deliberately flown across the Malay Peninsula towards India's Andaman Islands near the Bay of Bengal. Full coverage

world Updated: Mar 14, 2014 21:18 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
missing Malaysian airliner,US Navy,Indian Ocean

Another twist to the tale of the missing Malaysian airlines flight was added on Friday with reports saying it could have been deliberately flown across the Malay Peninsula towards India's Andaman Islands near the Bay of Bengal.

The Reuters news agency story quoted anonymous investigators as saying that flight MH370 with 239 people on board had followed a route that suggested that someone with aviation training had flown it towards the remote cluster of islands hundreds of miles away from intended course between Kuala Lumpur Beijing.

"Two sources said an unidentified aircraft that investigators believe was Flight MH370 was following a route between navigational waypoints - indicating it was being flown by someone with aviation training - when it was last plotted on military radar off the country's northwest coast," the Reuters report said.

Read: Malaysia jet MH370 search enters Day 7; focus shifts to Indian Ocean

"The last plot on the military radar's tracking suggested the plane was flying toward India's Andaman Islands, a chain of isles between the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal," the story quoted the unnamed sources as saying.

China did not immediately comment on the report though some its state media websites were carrying the story.

Speaking at the daily news briefing on Friday, spokesperson Hong Lei said Chinese authorities were in touch with India and thanked New Delhi for extending its support to the search of the missing flight.

"The Indian side at the invitation of the Malaysian side is helping to search for the missing plane in the Andaman Seas," Hong said.

"We contacted the Indian side. They confirmed it. So we appreciate their efforts in the search and rescue mission," he added.

Read:Missing plane sent signals to satellite for hours | Mystery of missing jet recalls past disappearances

Malaysia did not comment on the report either, sayings investigations were on trace the flight now missing for almost a week.

Agency reports from Malaysia quoted acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein as saying that the investigation team will not publicly release information until it has been properly verified and corroborated with the relevant authorities.

Speaking in his daily media briefing in Sepang, Hishammuddin said: "Nor do we want to be drawn into specific remarks that unnamed officials have reportedly made to the media," said Hishammuddin.

He also said that the local authorities were working closely with all international partners, including the US team, whose officials have been here on the ground in Kuala Lumpur.

Read: Malaysia widens search for missing jet MH 370 towards India

The aircraft went missing last Saturday and a multi-national search has not yielded any definite result so far. The mysterious disappearance has sparked a host of theories.

Adding to the confusion about the whereabouts of the lost flight was a Chinese state media report that said scientists here had detected "seismic activity" in the South China Sea, indicating that it could be related to the aircraft "plunging into the sea".

"The sea floor event occurred at about 2:55 am local time on Saturday, about one and a half hours after the plane's last definitive sighting on civilian radar,'' according to a research group on seismology and physics of the earth's interior under the University of Science and Technology of China.

Timeline: the hunt for flight MH370

A P3C patrol plane of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sits on the taxi way at Sepang air force base, Malaysia. (AP photo)

One of the few writers who still prefer to write their books completely by hand, Archer told HT in an interview that he often doesn't know the climax of the book when he starts writing.

The area, 116 km northeast from where the last contact with the Boeing plane was recorded, used to be a non-seismic region, the group said.

"The seafloor event could have been caused by the plane possibly plunging into the sea," the research group told the state media.

The location of the event was identified based on records of two seismographs located in Malaysia.

If the data is proved to be linked to the missing flight," the strength of the earthquake wave indicates the plunge was catastrophic," according to the research group.

This handout photo shows a Royal Malaysian Navy Fennec helicopter preparing to depart to aid in the search and rescue efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane (AFP photo)

On the reports that the aircraft had turned back and flown for hours, spokesperson Hong Lei said that Kuala Lumpur authorities told them that they believe that it could be a plane flying over the Malaccan Strait. "The Malaysian side has sent an aircraft and vessel to search the area and the Transport minister pointed out that the main efforts will be devoted to searching the South China Sea," Hong said.

Hong added that Beijing believes that the Malaysian side had done a lot but the flight was yet to be tracked.

"Chinese people and the family members of the passengers are very anxious. We call on the Malaysian side to shoulder the responsible of coordinating the search of the plane with all parties. We urge the Malaysian side to report to the Chinese side to in a timely fashion about what they have found in relevant waters," he added.

First Published: Mar 14, 2014 14:20 IST