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MH370: plane's last signal investigated as searches suspended

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MH370: plane's last signal investigated as searches suspended


Satellite data that confirmed a Malaysian jetliner missing for more than two weeks crashed in the Indian Ocean included a final electronic signal that is still being investigated, Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Tuesday.

“There is evidence of a partial handshake between the aircraft and ground station at 0019 UTC (GMT),” Hishammuddin told a news conference. “At this time, this transmission is not understood and is subject to further ongoing work.”

Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Sunday that groundbreaking satellite-data analysis by the British company Inmarsat had revealed that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, had crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will send a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur to consult with the Malaysian government over the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, state news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday.

Recovery of wreckage could unlock clues about why the plane had diverted so far off course. Theories range from a hijacking to sabotage or a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.

An international air and sea search in the area on Monday spotted several floating objects that might be parts of the plane and an Australian navy ship was close to finding possible debris, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

But the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said gale-force winds, heavy rain and low cloud meant planes could not fly safely to the zone on Tuesday, and waves of 6 metres (20ft) or more forced the navy ship from the area.

The search site is far from commercial flight paths about 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, a region of deep, frigid seas known as the Roaring 40s where storm-force winds and huge waves are commonplace.

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