Investigators believe someone aboard the missing Malaysian airliner deliberately shut off its communications and tracking systems, turned the plane around and flew for nearly seven hours after it vanished, Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday.
Shortly after the prime minister finished speaking, police arrived at the home of the missing aircraft’s pilot to search for evidence, a senior police officer told Reuters.
As the unprecedented search for Flight MH370 and its 239 passengers and crew entered its second week, Najib told a news conference that the hunt for wreckage around the scheduled flight path to the east of Malaysia was being called off.
“Despite media reports the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear, we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate,” Najib said.
The fate of the Boeing 777-200ER has been shrouded in mystery since it disappeared off Malaysia’s east coast less than an hour into a March 8 scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
But investigators have increasingly focused on the possibility that it was flown off-course by the pilot or co-pilot, or someone else on board with detailed knowledge of how to fly and navigate a large commercial aircraft.
About two-thirds of the passengers on board the flight were Chinese, and Beijing has been showing increasing impatience with the speed and co-ordination of the Malaysian search effort. On Saturday, China said it had demanded that Malaysia keep providing more thorough and accurate information.