‘Foul Play’ Investigated in Case of Missing Malaysian Plane

March 14, 2014  

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared nearly a week ago, remained unsolved on Friday, as sources familiar with the probe said the investigation was now focusing more on a suspicion of foul play.

Two sources told the Reuters news agency that an unidentified aircraft, that investigators suspect was missing Flight MH370, appeared to be following a commonly used navigational route when it was last spotted early last Saturday, northwest of Malaysia.

That course – headed into the Andaman Sea and towards the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean – could only have been set deliberately, either by flying the Boeing 777-200ER jet manually or by programming the auto-pilot.

A third investigative source said inquiries were focusing more on the theory that someone who knew how to fly a plane deliberately diverted the flight hundreds of miles off its scheduled course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

“What we can say is we are looking at sabotage, with hijack still on the cards,” the source, a senior Malaysian police official, told Reuters.

One of the most baffling mysteries in the history of modern aviation remains unsolved after nearly a week.

The latest radar evidence is consistent with the expansion of the search for the aircraft to the west of Malaysia.

There has been no trace of the plane nor any sign of wreckage as the navies and military aircraft of more than a dozen countries scour the seas across Southeast Asia.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he could not confirm the last heading of the plane or if investigators were focusing on sabotage.

“A normal investigation becomes narrower with time … as new information focuses the search, but this is not a normal investigation,” he told a news conference. “In this case, the information has forced us to look further and further afield.”

Terrorism has not been ruled out as a possible cause for the plane’s disappearance, and reports that the plane turned around shortly before disappearing have raised suspicions that it may have been hijacked.

Investigators also found that there were Iranian nationals aboard the flight traveling on stolen European passports; however, Malaysian police say the men are not believed to be members of any terrorist group.

On Thursday, an American official said that the missing plane sent signals to a satellite for four hours after the aircraft went missing, an indication that it was still flying for hundreds of miles or more.

Meanwhile, reported Reuters, the U.S. Navy was sending an advanced P-8A Poseidon plane to help search the Strait of Malacca, a busy sealane separating the Malay Peninsula from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It had already deployed a Navy P-3 Orion aircraft to those waters.

U.S. defense officials told Reuters that the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer, USS Kidd, was heading to the Strait of Malacca, answering a request from the Malaysian government. The Kidd had been searching the areas south of the Gulf of Thailand, along with the destroyer USS Pinckney.

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