MAS plane did not fly on for four hours, says Malaysia government
The Malaysian government yesterday came out to refute speculation on three key issues that have hogged headlines over the past 24 hours
ON THE WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORT THAT THE PLANE FLEW ON FOR HOURS
MALAYSIAN officials denied a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that cited unnamed US investigators claiming that the missing plane had carried on flying for four hours after falling off the air traffic control radar.
Yesterday, Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Malaysia Airlines (MAS) had verified with the aircraft's maker Boeing and engine supplier Rolls- Royce that the last time the plane transmitted data was at 1.07am local time last Saturday.
The Beijing-bound MH370 had taken off at 12.41am, but lost radio contact with air traffic control in Subang at about 1.30am. At 2.40am, the control tower reported the missing flight to MAS.
"Rolls-Royce and Boeing teams are here in Kuala Lumpur, and have worked with MAS and the investigations team since Sunday. This issue has never been raised," he told a packed press conference. "As far as Rolls-Royce and Boeing are concerned, those reports are inaccurate."
The WSJ report went viral yesterday after reporting that the MH370 could have continued flying hundreds of additional miles after it went missing from the radar, based on data purportedly sent to Boeing as part of its maintenance-and-monitoring programme from the aircraft's engines.
That, the influential business paper said, raised the possibility that the plane might have headed towards an undisclosed location, a theory which US counter-terrorism officials are pursuing.
MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the plane was set to send engine data at pre- programmed intervals or when there were abnormalities within the system. If the plane had carried on flying, it would have transmitted engine data back.
"But the last transmission at 1.07am stated that everything was operating normally," Mr Ahmad said. "The transmission did not run beyond that."
YONG YEN NIE
NO Chinese satellite pictures did not show debris
ON THE CHINESE SATELLITE IMAGES OF POTENTIAL DEBRIS
MALAYSIA said Chinese satellite images reproduced on multiple news sites were not of debris from the missing plane.
"We deployed our assets but found nothing. We have contacted the Chinese embassy who notified us this afternoon that the images were released by mistake, and did not show any debris from MH370," said Mr Hishammuddin.
He added that the Chinese government said in a note to him that the publication of the satellite image on a government website was due to "personal behaviour" by an individual, and the act was now under investigation.
"The image has not been confirmed to be connected to the plane," Mr Hishammuddin said.
His reading of the Chinese note admitting to the mistake was partly to temper rising criticism that Malaysia was not working well with other countries, especially Vietnam and China, in the search.
The photographs were reportedly taken on Sunday, but were released only on Wednesday on China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence website.
Malaysia had earlier been criticised for hiding information from its search partners.
On Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged Malaysia to step up search efforts. "The Chinese government has asked the relevant party to enhance coordination, investigate the cause, locate the missing plane as quickly as possible and properly handle all related matters," he said.
China has 153 citizens on board Flight MH370. It has deployed several warships, military aircraft and high-resolution satellites controlled from the Xian Satellite Control Centre in northern China to help search for the jet.
NO Police did not visit the homes of the two pilots
ON THE REPORTED POLICE SEARCH OF PILOTS' HOMES
MALAYSIAN officials refuted media reports that police had searched the homes of the missing MH370 crew, including the pilot and co-pilot, to probe the possibility of terrorism and sabotage.
The Acting Transport Minister said the reports were "not true", and that the police had also issued a statement denying they raided the crew's homes.
"Reports suggesting that the Malaysian police searched the homes of the MH370 crew are not true, and the Royal Malaysian Police have issued a statement to that effect," Datuk Seri Hishammuddin told a packed press conference yesterday.
Yesterday, Malay-language daily Harian Metro reported that the Malaysian police and Interpol had searched the family homes of the crew and were taking a closer look at a Chinese passenger of Uighur descent.
It also quoted senior police officer Hadi Ho Abdullah as confirming the investigations.
Earlier this month, the Uighurs - a Muslim ethnic minority group who live mainly in Xinjiang, a province in north-west China - were blamed for stabbings in a railway station in Kunming which left at least 29 people dead and 143 wounded.
The news reports said the pilots were also under scrutiny although there was no evidence showing possible sabotage so far.
In a statement, Datuk Hadi said the reports were false and that he had not given any statement to the media pertaining to investigations on the missing MH370.
"Such reports are invalid," he said.
Despite that, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi insisted that the police had visited the homes of some missing crew members, and that it was normal for the police to do so during investigations.
YONG YEN NIE