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Monday, February 17, 2020

Malaysian police suspect foul play, raid house of plane’s pilot

Plane flew for 7 hours after going off radar; data suggests flew towards Kazakhstan or Indian Ocean.

Kuala Lumpur | Published: March 16, 2014 1:05:10 am
Messages for passengers of MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur airport Saturday. (AP) Messages for passengers of MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur airport Saturday. (AP)

Malaysian police Saturday went to the house of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the missing flight MH370, minutes after Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that investigators will refocus on the crew and passengers of the aircraft that disappeared eight days ago.

Two police officers went to 53-year-old Capt Zaharie’s house in the suburb of Shah Alam here, officials said, without further elaborating.

Zaharie, a pilot with 18,365 flight hours under his belt, is reportedly also a flight instructor.

He has been in the news after questions were raised in the media over a flight simulator found at his home.

Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya had said earlier this week that the airline had no policy forbidding staff from owning the technology. He said Capt Zaharie was allowed to pursue hobbies. “There are several other pilots who have flight simulators in their home,” he had said.

Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein had said the authorities will search the home of MH370 crew members if it was necessary to do so.

The move came hours after Prime Minister Najib said the missing aircraft’s communication system and the transponder were switched off deliberately “by someone on the plane”.

Najib said new data showed the last communication between the missing plane and satellites at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time.

That is almost seven hours after it dropped off civilian air traffic control screens at 1:22 am last Saturday, less than an hour after take-off.

Najib said satellite data confirmed an unidentified aircraft later appeared on military radar off Malaysia’s west coast before going out of range at 2:15 am which was flight MH370. “Up until the point at which it left military radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” he said.

He said analysis of the plane’s last communication with satellites placed it somewhere in one of two corridors: a northern corridor stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, or a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

Earlier, a source said it appeared most likely the plane turned south over the Indian Ocean, where it would presumably have run out of fuel and crashed into the sea.

Pakistan dismisses reports of missing jet in its territory

Pakistan’s top aviation official Saturday dismissed suggestions that the missing Malaysian airliner could have potentially reached as far as this country.

“It’s wrong, the plane never came towards Pakistan,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister  on Aviation Shujaat Azeem said in response to some media reports.

“Pakistan’s civil aviation radars never spotted this jet,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn,  “so how it could be hidden somewhere in the country.”

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