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Malaysia Airlines jet hunt: As it happened

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 10:15

7:40 pm: Beware! Cyber criminals on the prowl

According to an internet security firm, cyber criminals are trying to lure users to malicious websites on the pretext of giving latest information on the missing Malaysian jet, the AFP reported.

The report adds that another scam tried to coax Facebook users into clicking on a link Titled - (BREAKING NEWS) Malaysia Plane Crash into Vietnam sea MH370 Malaysia Airlines is found!"

6:50 pm: Flight path of plane was altered via computer?

The first diversion of the missing plane`s flight path was engineered via computer and not manually, top US officials believe, a New York Times report said.

The report adds that the manoeuvering on computer was done by someone in the plane’s cockpit who had good knowledge about avionics and other airplane systems.

5:51 pm: Anwar Ibrahim condemns reports about pilot`s role

Malaysian opposition leader, who has earlier said that the pilot of the missing plane is related to one of his in-laws, today lashed out at speculations suggesting that the pilot hijacked the plane due to political motives.

The leader said he was "disgusted" to know about the attempts to smear the pilot, reported the AFP news agency.

4:25 pm: `ACARS data shows plane movement deliberate`

That the ACARS was switched off between 1:07 am to
01:37 am on March 8, suggests that the plane was veered deliberately away from its scheduled flight path, said Malaysian defence minister. The transport minister also added that "the aircraft`s movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane".

4:10 pm: `Politics not important, searching the plane main priority`

Malaysian defence minister stressed that politics had nothing to do with the jet search as 25 countries with high technical abilities were involved in the operation.

"Our main objective is to locate where the aircraft is...Politics is not important," the Malaysian minister said.

3:50 pm: ACARS system was switched off between 1.07 am and 1.37 am

Throwing light on the details of the events, Malaysian minister said that it was between 1:07 am and 1.37 am on Saturday March 8, that the plane`s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was turned off.

3:35 pm: Search area extended to 2.24 million nautical square miles

The new search area for the missing jet has been widened to 2.24 million nautical miles Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in a press conference.

The search area has been bifurcated into northern and southern corridors and each corridor has further been divided into seven quadrants of area 160,000 square nautical miles each.

3:00 pm: Chinese passengers` kins threaten hunger strike

Miffed with absence of any solid clues regarding the missing plane, the relatives of the Chinese passengers on board the ill-fated plane have threatened to go on a hunger strike, reported the Mirror.

2:45 pm: Pilot`s daughter frustrated with speculations

As days pass without any solid lead on the missing Malaysian jet, the spotlight has been on the people in the cockpit, mainly the pilot Zaharie Ahmed Shah. However, the pilot`s daughter Ayeshah Shah, who returned from Australia to be with her family has hit out at media reports hinting at her father`s possible role behind the disappearance of the jet.

A report in the IB Times, quoted a friend of hers as saying that the rumours surrounding her father, were killing the family.

"What has been reported in the news by the international media ...very frustrating," the IB Times report quoted the pilot`s daughter as saying.

2: 30 pm: Sodomy convicted leader Anwar Ibrahim says pilot related to him

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was recently sentenced to five years in prison on charges of sodomy, has stated that the pilot was related to one of his in-laws, reported the Strait Times.

"I am not denying that he ( Zaharie) is related to one of my in-laws and that I have met him on several occasions," the report quoted him as saying.

Ibrahim`s statement may fuel another theory hinging on pilot`s suspected role in diverting the plane, which suggests that the pilot may have hijacked the plane in protest against the leader`s conviction.

Ibrahim was sentenced to five years in jail on March 7, just a day before the plane disappeared.

2: 05 pm: `Jet may have made landing`

Giving another hint in the direction of the possibility that the missing plane is intact, authorities have said that missing Malaysia Airlines jet may have landed rather than crashed, reported the Mirror.

The report quoted a senior Malaysian official as saying that that it was quiet possible that the plane beamed satellite signals while on the ground.

It also fuels the hijack theory, as the hijackers must have landed the plane at a remote corner of land and are waiting to make demands.

1: 30 pm: Malaysian jet search like looking for ``a needle in the haystack”: AMSA official

Analogising the search for missing Malaysian jet, to looking for `a needle in the haystack`, an Australian Maritime Safety Agency (AMSA) official has said that the hunt will involve weeks of scouring through the 6,00,000 square kilometres and will get difficult with each passing day.

`A needle in a haystack remains a good analogy,` John Young, AMSA`s emergency response division chief told reporters on Tuesday.

`But with the passage of significant time ... and with the constant movement of water, it will be difficult,` added Mr Young.

AMSA has decided to reduce the search area to 3% of the estimated 19 million sq km area in the Indian Ocean where the plane could be, reports said.

12:45 pm: UN nuke watchdog rules out any explosion or plane crash

Even as speculations of all sorts, including that of plane crash, are doing the rounds regarding the missing plane, a Vienna-based UN nuke watchdog - Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) - has claimed that no crash or big explosion was detected.

Speaking to the reporters, Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Stephane Dujarric said, "Regarding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight… the Vienna-based CTBTO confirmed that neither an explosion nor a plane crash on land or on water had been detected so far," a PTI report said.

Usually, CTBTO`s International Monitoring System (IMS) uses few techniques to detect nuclear explosions but the system can also spot any huge explosion like that of an aircraft and can also measure its impact on the ground or water, added Dujarric.

12:35 pm: `No Chinese on board missing Malaysian linked to terrorism`

As the investigators have not ruled out the hijack theory, China today refuted the possibility that any Chinese on the missing plane might have hijacked the plane.

Huang Huikang, the Chinese ambassador to Malaysia, said that none of its 154 citizens aboard the missing jet seems to be linked to the disappearance of the jet as their background checks have yielded nothing dubious, reported the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

"No passenger from Chinese mainland aboard the missing MH370 flight was involved in a hijack or terror attack," said Huikang.

This claim by the Chinese envoy puts to rest speculation surrounding Xinjiang`s Uighur separatists` possible role in the the disappearance of the Boeing 777.

12:00 pm: Wish we could hijack such a plane: Pak Taliban
As the hunt for the missing jet continues, the investigators have not ruled out the possibility of foul play like hijack, into the disappearance of the plane; with some hinting that the jet might have been veered towards Taliban controlled areas near Pak-Afghan border.

However, a Pakistani Taliban commander has denied having any role into the jet`s disappearance, saying that they could only dream about such an operation, reported the Reuters.

"We wish we had an opportunity to hijack such a plane," Reuters quoted him as saying.

It has been ten days since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 people on board, disappeared en route Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. But despite a frantic search operation involving dozens of nations and a higher number of aircraft and ships, investigators have nothing but few nuggets of clues,weaving numerous theories.

The latest theory being assumed is that the jet might have been flown to somewhere in Taliban controlled area of Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, the area of search now encompasses Central Asian countries, like Kazakhstan in the north to the Indian Ocean down south below Indonesia.

The jet`s contact from ground air traffic controllers was lost at around 1:30 am on March 8.

First Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 12:32
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