Missing jet may have strayed to west, Malaysia military says

Missing jet may have strayed to west, Malaysia military says

KUALA LUMPUR/PHU QUOC, Vietnam - Malaysia's military has traced what could have been the jetliner missing for almost five days to an area south of the Thai holiday island of Phuket, hundreds of miles to the west of its last known position, the country's air force chief said on Wednesday.

His statement followed a series of conflicting accounts of the flight path of the Boeing 777-200ER with 239 people on board, which left authorities uncertain even which ocean to search in for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The last definitive sighting of the aircraft on civilian radar screens came shortly before 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, as it flew northeast across the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand bound for Beijing.

What happened next remains one of the most baffling mysteries in modern aviation history and the differing accounts put out by various Malaysian officials have drawn criticism of their handling of the crisis.

In the latest potential lead, a Chinese government agency website on Wednesday said a Chinese satellite had photographed three "suspicious floating objects" on Sunday in waters northeast of Kuala Lumpur and south of Vietnam.

It said the images were taken over the "suspected accident area at sea" that was not far from where the plane made its last known communication with air traffic control.

The website of the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence said the objects measured about 22 by 24 metres, 14 by 19 metres and 13 by 18 metres. It was unclear if that location had been searched.

There was no immediate explanation why the Chinese agency waited for four days to reveal the images.

One senior US defence official said US satellites had not located any sign of a crash.

Earlier on Wednesday, Rodzali Daud, the Malaysian air force chief, told a news conference that an aircraft was plotted on military radar at 2:15 a.m., 200 miles (320 km) northwest of Penang Island off Malaysia's west coast.

But there has been no confirmation that the unidentified plane was Flight MH370, Rodzali said, and Malaysia was sharing the data with international civilian and military authorities, including those from the United States. "We are corroborating this," he added. "We are still working with the experts."

More about

MH370 Search
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.