Reports Put Jet Hundreds of Miles Off Course

Malaysian airline may have been turned west, not northeast
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2014 1:50 PM CDT
Women are silhouetted as they watch a Malaysia Airlines jet taxi on the tarmac at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

(Newser) – This would at least explain why the search for the missing Malaysian jet has expanded to the west of late: An anonymous air force official from that nation says the plane may have ended up hundreds of miles from its expected flight path, reports CNN. Specifically, the report puts the jet's last known location in the Straits of Malacca above a small island called Pulau Perak. If true, it suggests the plane turned west about an hour after takeoff instead of heading northeast toward Vietnam. (Earlier reports speculated that the plane might have tried to turn back.) The AP has a similar account, adding that another air force official thinks the plane was flying low over Pulau Perak.

But there "were conflicting accounts of the course change and what may have happened afterward, adding to the air of confusion and disarray surrounding the investigation and search operation," observes the New York Times. If the plane did indeed fly over the Straits of Malacca, its transponder likely had been damaged or deliberately shut off by that point, because no signal was detected. Reuters quotes a non-military official as saying the new report is just one of several theories being investigated. Click to read about others. (Read more Malaysia Airlines crash stories.)

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