Malaysia’s military said Tuesday that it believed it tracked the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner by radar over the Strait of Malacca, far from where it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country’s east coast. The Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest shipping channels, runs along Malaysia’s west coast.
The airline said on Saturday that the flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew last had contact off the east coast Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.
“It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait,” the military official, who has been briefed on investigations, told reporters.
A non-military source familiar with the investigations said the new report was being checked as new searches in the area, for the fourth day, revealed no debris from the missing plane.
If the reports from the military are verified, it would mean the plane was able to maintain a cruising altitude and flew for about 500 km (350 miles) with its transponder and other tracking systems apparently switched off.
Malaysia has extended the massive search operation for the plane to the Malacca Strait after initially focusing on the South China Sea.
Earlier, Interpol assumed the terrorist link was fading away after the international police inquiry on two suspect passengers travelling with fake passports. According Interpol the two passengers of Iranian nationality could be related more with an human trafficking situation that with terrorism.