Missing Malaysian jet: Indian Navy joins search; Flight 370 tracked to Strait of Malacca?

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 00:27

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Beijing: In a breakthrough revelation, Malaysia`s military said on Tuesday that its radar had managed to track the missing Malaysia Airlines jet to the Strait of Malacca.

According to a Reuters report, the Malaysian military radar tracked the missing jet to the Strait of Malacca, far west of the area where the plane had last made contact with the civilian air traffic control.

"It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait," Reuters quoted a Malaysian military official as saying.

The Strait of Malacca is a narrow stretch of water running along the western coast of Malaysia and it lies far from the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu along east coast, the area where the plane had last made contact.

The Strait of Malacca is one of the most strategic and busiest shipping lanes between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

Meanwhile, ships of the Indian Navy that are on patrol in the Malacca Straits are participating in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations for the Malaysian flight.

As per reports, the Indian Navy`s satellite Rukmini or GSAT-7 has also been activated to try and pick up any clue that may lead investigators to the missing aircraft.

Earlier today, the search for the jet had been widened beyond the flight path to focus on the Western coasts and the Straits of Malacca, the Malaysian Airlines had stated.

But on being asked the reason behind widening the scope of search, Malaysian civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman refused to answer saying, "There are some things that I can tell you and some things that I can`t."

The tracking of the jet near the Strait of Malacca further confirms a possibility earlier suggested by the Malaysian Air Force that the plane might have made a turn back towards Kuala Lumpur.

Earlier, the Malaysian Police released the photographs of two suspect passengers who were travelling on the ill-fated flight that disappeared over South China Sea three days ago.

Both of them have been identified as Iranians. One of them is said to be a 19 year old asylum seeker named Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, who was migrating to Germany where his mother was due to receive him at Frankfurt, said the police.

The second passenger travelling on stolen passports, was identified as Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, 30.

In a press conference, Interpol chief Ronald Noble said that the two Iranians flew from Doha to Kuala Lumpar, from where they took the flight to Beijing. He added that they used Iranian passports to enter Malaysia, but used stolen passports to fly to Beijing.

The Iranians were "not likely to be members of any terrorist group", said Malaysia`s police chief Inspector Gen Khalid Abu Bakar.

The latest clue to the mystery surrounding Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 came as the frantic multi-nation hunt for the missing jet entered its fourth day on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the mystery over what might have happened to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took an eerie turn when reports surfaced saying that the cellphones of the passengers on the missing plane were ringing, but went unanswered.

Chinese media have gone into tizzy after the reports that the concerned families of the missing passengers managed to connect the calls successfully, but no one picked the call.

In an astonishing live video on state television, a relative was shown dialing up the number of one of the passengers on the flight, and the phone was heard ringing, reported the Mirror.

Investigators are still clueless on what went wrong with the Boeing 777 jet even as Malaysia Airlines issued a statement saying that the plane had undergone maintenance checks just 12 days before Saturday and nothing was wrong with the health of the aircraft.

Also, China has deployed 10 satellites to assist in the search operations.

China`s People`s Liberation Army Daily in an article, stated that 10 satellites will use “high-resolution earth imaging capabilities, visible light imaging, etc” to scour the sea and air to locate the traces of the missing Boeing 777.

Earlier, China prodded Malaysia to “step up the efforts” in order to get clues about the missing aircraft that went missing on Saturday morning over the South China Sea.

Out of 239 people on board, over two-third were Chinese.

The Beijing-bound Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 with 239 people on-board disappeared on Saturday between Malaysia and Vietnam after it lost contact with the ground controllers at 1:30 am on that fateful day. 

As days pass, the search mission continues to get desperate with 10 nations taking part in the search and rescue operations.

Also, 40 ships and 34 aircraft are involved in the hunt, which has so far produced no hints of any clues.

Earlier reports from Vietnam about spotting wreckage (jet`s door and life raft) have turned out to be false.

Also, the oil slicks discovered off Vietnam coast were reported to have no link to the disappeared plane.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Airlines in a statement said that the search for the jet has been now widened beyond the flight path. "The focus now is on the West Peninsular of Malaysia at the Straits of Malacca," said the Airlines.

The statement added that everything was fine with the B777-200 aircraft that had undergone maintenance on 23 February 2014, just 12 days before the flight to Beijing.

"The maintenance was conducted at the KLIA hangar and there were no issues on the health of the aircraft," read the Malaysia Airlines statement.

The aircraft was delivered to Malaysia Airlines in 2002 and have since clocked 53,465.21 hours with a total of 7525 cycles.

Malaysia Airlines also tweeted that the search operations continued overnight.
Urging the people to pray for the kins of those on board the fateful flight as for them “every minute seemed like an hour”.

However hopes continued to fade as despite three days of frantic search, the investigators have very less clue to what might have happened to the plane. 

Yesterday, the Director General of Malaysian Civil Aviation department Azharuddin Abdul Rahman sounded alarm when he said that a possible hijack couldn`t be ruled out.

Adding to the possibility of foul play, were the names of two suspected passengers who were said to be traveling on the stolen passports and have now been identified. However, the police officials have ruled out that they may be linked to terrorists.

The stolen passports, one belonging to Christian Kozel of Austria and the other to Luigi Maraldi of Italy, were fed into Interpol`s database after they were taken in Thailand in 2012 and 2013, the police organization said.




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