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Malaysian Leader: Plane’s disappearance is deliberate
By: WJAC Web Staff and The Associated Press
KUALA LUMPUS, Malaysia -- A Malaysian passenger jet that has been missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about seven and a half hours after takeoff, indicating that the plane could have ended up as far as Kazakstan or in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.
"MH370 went completely silent over the open ocean," said Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. "This is a crisis situation. It is a very complex operation, and it is not obviously easy. We are devoting all our energies to the task at hand."
Najibs statement confirmed that the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board was not accidental.
"In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board," Najib said, stressing they are still investigating all possibilities as to why the plane deviated so drastically from its original flight path.
"Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase," Najib said at a televised news conference.
The flight departed for an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing at 12:40 a.m., March 8. The planes communications with civilian air controllers were disconnected about 1:20 a.m. and the plane went missing.
Investigators have a high degree of certainty that the planes communications were disabled before the aircraft reached the east coast of Malaysia, Najib said. Shortly afterward, someone on board switched off the aircrafts transponder, which communicates with civilian air traffic controllers.
The prime minister confirmed that Malaysian air force defense radar picked up traces of the plane turning back westward, crossing over peninsular Malaysia into the northern stretches of the Strait of Malacca. Authorities had said this radar data could not be verified.
The last confirmed signal between to the plane and a satellite, the prime minister said, came at 8:11 a.m., which was seven hours and 31 minutes after takeoff. Airline officials said the plane had enough fuel to fly for up to about eight hours.
"The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact," he said.
The planes last communication with a satellite was in one of two possible routes, a northern Thailand through the border of Kazakstan and Turkmenistan or a southern route from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean, Najib said.
Najib said the search in the South China Sea where the plane first lost contact with air traffic controllers would end.
Currently there are 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft involved in the search for the missing plane.
Stay with 6 News for additional information.