Malaysia confirms jet search area expanded

Agence France-Presse
'We are pushing further east into the South China Sea and further into the Indian Ocean,' Malaysia's transport minister says

CONTINUOUS SEARCH. This handout photo taken on March 9, 2014 shows Malaysian Maritime Enforcement personnel looking through binoculars during search and rescue operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Boeing 777-200. Photo by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement/AFP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia confirmed Friday, March 14, that the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane had been expanded into the Indian Ocean, but declined to comment on US reports that the jet had flown for hours after going missing.

“The aircraft is still missing, and the search area is expanding,” said Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

“Together with our international partners, we are pushing further east into the South China Sea and further into the Indian Ocean,” he added. (READ: Vietnam downgrades jet search from ’emergency to regular’)

Stressing that he could offer no new information on what happened to Flight MH370 which disappeared last Saturday, March 8, Hishammuddin refused to address US media reports, citing unidentified US officials, that the Boeing 777 had flown for an additional 4 or 5 hours after vanishing from civilian radar.

“We do not want to be drawn into specific remarks that unnamed officials have reportedly made in the media,” he said.

The US reports were based on information that the plane’s communication system continued to “ping” a satellite for up to 4 hours after it disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

A US Navy official said the destroyer USS Kidd was being sent to the Indian Ocean – on the opposite side of the Malaysian peninsula from where contact was lost – to investigate.

But Hishammuddin insisted that the main reason for widening the search field was the failure to locate the plane in the areas searched so far.

“A normal investigation becomes narrower with time,” he said.

“But this is not a normal investigation. In this case, the information we have forces us to look further and further afield.” –

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