Missing MH370: Probe on profiles of those on board

SEPANG, Malaysia - As the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 entered its second week with the search area extended to the Indian Ocean, intelligence agencies narrowed their probe into the profiles of the crew and the passengers to find out if foul play was involved.

Some 57 ships and 48 aircraft from 14 countries are now involved in the search.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the Department of Civil Aviation was working closely with experts from the United States to verify whether the aircraft turned back and flew towards the Andaman Islands as reported.

Hishammuddin said Malaysia was sharing information with foreign agencies and the availability of "new information" including from satellites and radar from other countries were being studied.

"We are now pushing further east into the South China Sea, and further into the Indian Ocean.

Asked what had led the search to be expanded into the Indian Ocean, he said the fact that the search had not yielded results meant that it needed to be widened.

"We want nothing more than to find the plane as quickly as possible but the circumstances have forced us to widen our search," he told reporters.

Hishammuddin said the likelihood of a hijacking could not be ruled out.

"I cannot confirm that there was no hijacking. Like I said from the start and I have been consistent on this, we are looking into all possibilities."

On whether investigators have explored the probability that pilots or the cabin crew might have been involved in the disappearance, he said the investigators were looking into all possibilities.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that military radar-tracking evidence suggested that MH370 was deliberately flown across the peninsula towards the Andaman Islands.

Citing sources familiar with the investigation, it said an unidentified aircraft that investigators believe was the missing jet, followed a route between navigational waypoints - indicating that it was being flown by someone with aviation training - when it was last plotted on military radar.

According to the report, the aircraft was following aviation corridors identified on maps used by pilots as N571 and P628.

These routes are taken by commercial planes flying from South-East Asia to the Middle East or Europe and can be found in public documents issued by regional aviation authorities.

In a far detailed description of the military radar plotting than has been officially revealed, the sources said the last confirmed position of MH370 was at 35,000ft, about 44km off the east coast of Malaysia, heading towards Vietnam, near a navigational waypoint called "Igari" and the time was 1.21am.

The military track suggests it then turned sharply westwards, heading towards a waypoint called "Vampi", north-east of Indonesia's Aceh province and a navigational point used for planes following route N571 to the Middle East.

The plot then indicated that the plane flew towards a waypoint called "Gival", south of the Thai island of Phuket, and headed north-west towards another waypoint called "Igrex", on route P628 that would take it over the Andaman Islands and which carriers use to fly towards Europe.