MH370 ‘hijacked’; PM speaks to media

This post was originally written for The Global Panorama, and has been uploaded here as part of a growing portfolio of work.

KUALA LUMPUR — An anonymous Malaysian official has said that investigators have concluded that missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 was hijacked and later veered off course.

The Malaysian official involved in the investigation said that either one of the pilots or another person on the plane with flying experience hijacked the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

Speaking to the media on the condition of anonymity, the Malaysian official said, “It has to be a skilled, competent and a current pilot.” He added, “He knew how to avoid the civilian radar. He appears to have studied how to avoid it.”

The official said that the idea that it was hijacked is no longer a theory: “It is conclusive.”

Malaysian Airways flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur, heading to Beijing on March 8, with 239 passengers on board. It vanished off the radar in waters between Malaysia and southern Vietnam. Since then, around 60 ships and 50 aircrafts from 13 different countries have been involved in the search.

LIVE UPDATES (ALL UPDATES ARE IN LOCAL MALAYSIA TIME, GMT+8):

8:52PM: Vietnam has called off the search for the MH370 aircraft. Meanwhile, the search for the flight has been broadened, meaning the plane could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or deep in the southern Indian Ocean.

6:01PM: The 5.30PM media update for the missing flight was cancelled today, due to there being ‘no new developments since the earlier press conference.’ No questions from the media were answered.

2:33PM: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has just finished speaking. He has said that, despite recent media speculation, Razak says they are still investigating all leads. He confirmed that the communications between the plane and the radar control were deliberately turned off.

“Seven days ago, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared. We realise this is an extricating time for those with family on board… Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

“At the beginning of the operation, I instructed the Malaysian authorities to share all information available with the entire investigation team. I want to thank all the governments for their help in such a crucial time.”

“We have shared information in real time with authorities who have the necessary experience to interpret the data.”

“We can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370. According to the data, the last confirmed connection between the flight and the radar was at 8:11 am.”

“In view of this latest development, Malaysia has refocused their efforts in to the crew and passengers on board.”

1:59 PM: A Malaysian Government spokesperson has just spoken to media in Malaysia. He says the Prime Minister will not take any questions from the media and will speak later. If media would like to ask questions, they must submit them to the Media Centre by 5: 30 pm to be approved and answered.

— Anthony Segaert, Correspondent (Asia: Far East)

This post was originally published on March 15, 2014.

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