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Did Flight MH370 change course? Search area for missing Malaysia Airlines plane widens as terror attack becomes unlikely
The search for missing Flight MH370 has been thrown into yet more confusion after a key Malaysian military chief denied earlier reports that radar had spotted the plane hundreds of kilometres off course.
Air force chief General Rodzali Daud was quoted in a local pro-government newspaper as saying a military base had detected the Malaysia Airlines aircraft near an island in the Malacca Strait, far to the southwest of where it should have been headed.
The news injected even more mystery into the investigation of the Boeing 777 jetliner’s disappearance, with aviation experts theorising about how the plane could have strayed so far off track for so long.
But General Daud has since released a statement saying that while authorities have not ruled out the possibility the plane inexplicably changed course before losing contact, reports that it had been detected far from its planned flight path were incorrect.
“The (air force) has not ruled out the possibility of an air turn-back on a reciprocal heading before the aircraft vanished from the radar,” he said.
The continuing confusion comes as a huge search effort is still unable to locate the plane or any wreckage several days after it lost contact while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and the zone where officials concentrate their efforts continues to expand.
Authorities have identified two passengers travelling on stolen passports and said it was looking less likely that terrorism played a part.
The possibility of a passenger somehow sabotaging the flight so their family could benefit from a lucrative insurance policy has even been put forward by Malaysia’s police chief.
And further adding to the intrigue, the laid-back approach to security of one of the flight’s co-pilots has also come under scrutiny after two women came forward to detail how he broke rules by inviting them into the cockpit during a flight in 2011.
WHERE DID THE PLANE GO?
The Boeing 777 had taken off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:41am local time on Saturday (3:41am AEDT) and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6:30am the same day, after a roughly 4,350-kilometre journey.
It reportedly lost contact with air traffic controllers around 1:30am somewhere midway between the east coast Malaysian town of Kota Bharu and the southern tip of Vietnam, while flying at an altitude of 35,000ft.