US official: ‘Indication’ missing Malaysia plane went down in Indian Ocean

 

US officials have an “indication” a missing Malaysia Airline jet went down in the Indian Ocean, the Pentagon said today.

An ex pilot fears the missing plane could be somewhere between Madagascar and Australia

An ex-pilot fears the missing plane could be somewhere between Madagascar and Australia

 

Security chiefs have now moved the USS Kidd into the area, although it will take the naval destroyer 24 hours to reach its new position.

“We have an indication the plane went down in the Indian Ocean,” a senior Pentagon official told ABC News.

The official said they are working on a theory the plane flew for another four or five hours after disappearing from radar, before plunging into water.

Earlier today, an aviation expert claimed the missing plane could be “thousands of miles” from the current area being searched – from the South China Sea to India’s territorial waters – after flying for hours on auto pilot.

Retired British Airways pilot Alastair Rosenschein believes Flight MH 370 has plunged into the Indian Ocean half way between Madagascar and Australia.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, he claimed the Malaysian jetliner is around 5,000 miles away from where rescuers are looking in the South China Sea after flying on a course set by the pilots before the crew passed out from a drop in cabin pressure.

He said: “The initial reaction for pilots in that case would be to put on oxygen masks immediately.

“However, had they failed to do that the next option would be to turn off the airway in order to do a rapid descent.

“Without the oxygen masks they would have passed out within a few seconds.

“That would have left the aircraft on autopilot heading in whichever direction they had turned the aircraft on the autopilot.

“I’m suggesting that they would have made that initial heading a reciprocal one back towards Kuala Lumpur airport.

“That doesn’t mean they turned the aircraft directly and exactly toward Kuala Lumpur airport it could quite happily have been a parallel track with the airway.

“With the fuel on board that would put the aircraft finally as it ran out out of fuel, with everybody unconscious on board, somewhere around the mid-Indian Ocean which is thousands of miles away from where they’re looking at present.

“The worst case scenario for the location of the aircraft would be half-way between Madagascar and Australia, a very very difficult area to search and of course a huge area.”

The aerial images show three suspected floating objects

 

Earlier today, Malaysia’s transport minister said recent satellite pictures do not show the wreckage of the missing aircraft and were released by mistake. 

The images were taken at 11am local time on March 9, just a day after the passenger jet that took off from Kuala Lumpur disappeared.

The pictures show objects which are as large as 24 metres by 22 metres between the gulf of Thailand and the South China sea.

But speaking at a press conference this morning, Hishammuddin Hussein said a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency surveillance plan had been dispatched to the area and had found nothing. 

He said Chinese authorities have also confirmed the images were released by mistake and didn’t show any debris from the lost plane. 

The images were taken near a Vietnam oil rig where a New Zealand worker claimed to have witnessed the Malaysia Airlines plane “come down” in flames.

Speaking to ABC News, Mike McKay said: “I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines plane come down. The timing is right.

“I observed (the plane) burning at high altitude. 

“While I observed the burning (plane) it appeared to be in one piece.”

Angry relatives pelt officials with water bottles

 

Mr Hussein also dismissed a report by the Wall Street Journal that MH 370 kept flying for several hours after it lost contact, claiming teams from Boeing and Rolls Royce confirmed engine data cited in the article was inaccurate. 

He added that all the necessary pre-flight checks and maintenance work had been carried out on the plane and dispelled rumours police have searched the homes of the pilots.

Mr Hussein’s comments come as the search enters its sixth day, with authorities no closer to finding the lost plane.

Some 40 ships and 39 aircraft from 12 countries are now taking part in the operation, which covers 27,000 square nautical miles from the South China Sea to India’s territorial waters.

The confusion over where to look is adding to one of the most baffling mysteries in modern aviation history, and prolonging the agonising wait for hundreds of relatives.

Satellite pictures of the Gulf of Thailand have now been uploaded to the web and members of the public are being urged to help the search from home. 

Colorado based company DigitalGlobe have uploaded the images to tomnod.com and are asking volunteers to point out “anything that looks interesting, any signs of wreckage or life rafts.”

Relatives frustrated with the lack of communication by the authorities have threatened to take legal action. 

One , who didn’t want to give her name, said: “We are definitely going sue them. This is really bad. (We are not suing) Malaysia Airlines, but the Malaysian government.” 

Yesterday furious relatives of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 threw water bottles at officials in Beijing and accused them of withholding information.

At a meeting between airline officials and members of the Malaysian embassy yesterday, relatives of the 153 Chinese passengers vented their frustration over the lack of information about the fate of their loved ones. 

When officials refused to discuss what was known, at least three people threw bottles and some lunged towards the speakers.

Others shouted “tell us the truth” and demanded the Malaysian military reveal what they knew about the missing plane.

A press conference today also offered no comfort to families, with Malaysia’s transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein saying the chance of finding survivors is fading.

He said: “As time goes on the search and rescue becomes just a search – but we will never give up hope.”

The search for the jetliner has been expanded to cover a swathe of Southeast Asia from the South China Sea to India’s territorial waters.

Some 40 ships and 39 aircraft from 12 countries are now taking part in the operation, which covers 27,000 square nautical miles. 

But despite the huge scale of the search, no trace has been found of the missing Boeing 777.

The confusion over where to look is adding to one of the most baffling mysteries in modern aviation history, and prolonging the agonising wait for hundreds of relatives.

Malaysia’s military has said the plane could have turned around from its planned flight path, but there were conflicting statements and reports about how far and in which direction it could have flown after communication was lost. 

Malaysia’s air force chief, Rodzali Daud, denied saying military radar had tracked MH370 flying over the Strait of Malacca off the country’s west coast.

He said: “It would not be appropriate for the Royal Malaysian Air Force to issue any official conclusions as to the aircraft’s flight path until a high amount of certainty and verification is achieved.

“However all ongoing search operations are at the moment being conducted to cover all possible areas where the aircraft could have gone down in order to ensure no possibility is overlooked.”

Malaysia

The crowd were frustrated by the lack of information

 

Indonesia and Thailand, which lie on either side of the northern part of the Malacca Strait, have said their militaries detected no sign of any unusual aircraft in their airspace. 

A senior military officer who had been briefed on the investigation said the missing aircraft had made a detour to the west after communications with civilian authorities ended. 

“It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait,” the officer said. 

A  non-military source familiar with the investigations said the reported detour was one of several theories and was being checked. 

If the plane had made such a detour it would undermine the theory that it suffered a sudden, catastrophic mechanical failure, as it would mean it flew at least 350 miles after its last contact with air traffic control. 

In the absence of any concrete evidence to explain the plane’s disappearance, authorities have not ruled out anything.

Witnesses have come forward, claiming to have spotted the plane.

Mike McKay, a New Zealander working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Thailand, sent an email Vietnamese authorities saying he spotted what could have been a burning plane 200 miles southeast of Vung Tau.

Police have said they were investigating whether any passengers or crew on the plane had personal or psychological problems that might shed light on the mystery, along with the possibility of a hijacking, sabotage or mechanical failure.

The last words heard from pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, by air traffic control were “Alright, good night’ as the plane switched from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace.

Another possibility being looked into by authorities is that one of the pilots committed suicide. 

John Brennan, head of the US Central Intelligence Agency said: “I think you cannot discount any theory.”

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