Asia-Pacific

Friday 25 July 2014

Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Co-pilot call claims denied

Malaysian media quotes sources saying call was made shortly before plane went missing

Published 12/04/2014|16:42

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Sgt. Trent Wyatt,  a crew member of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion,  look out in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean, Friday, April 11, 2014. Their search area was located 1,800 kilometers (1,125 miles) northwest of Perth and they were tasked with flying at 800 feet to visually search for aircraft debris. Authorities are confident that signals detected deep in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet's black boxes, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, raising hopes they are close to solving one of aviation's most perplexing mysteries.  (AP Photo/Richard Wainwright, Pool)
Sgt. Trent Wyatt, a crew member of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion, look out in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean, Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Wainwright, Pool)
Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 react during a briefing held by Malaysia officials at a hotel in Beijing, China Friday, April 11, 2014. Authorities are confident that signals detected deep in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet's black boxes, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, raising hopes they are near solving one of aviation's most perplexing mysteries. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 react during a briefing held by Malaysia officials at a hotel in Beijing, China Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) co-pilot squadron leader Brett McKenzie, left, and Flight Engineer Trent Wyatt sit in the cockpit aboard a P-3 Orion on route to search over the southern Indian Ocean looking for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Friday, April 11, 2014. Authorities are confident that signals detected deep in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet's black boxes, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, raising hopes they are close to solving one of aviation's most perplexing mysteries.  (AP Photo/Richard Polden, Pool)
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) co-pilot squadron leader Brett McKenzie, left, and Flight Engineer Trent Wyatt sit in the cockpit aboard a P-3 Orion on route to search over the southern Indian Ocean looking for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Polden, Pool)

THE Malaysian government has denied claims that the co-pilot of the missing flight MH370 tried to make a call just before it disappeared.

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The New Straits Times quoted unnamed sources saying investigators traced a call from the Malaysia Airlines plane to Fariq Abdul Hamid's phone.

 

Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia's acting Transport Minister, denied the claims and said many leads from local and foreign media had been baseless.

 

"If this did happen, we would have known about it earlier," he told the paper.

 

“Unless we can have verifications, we can't comment on these reports.”

 

According to the article, the call ended abruptly but was connected to a tower north-west of Penang on 8 March.

 

“The telco's (telecommunications company's) tower established the call that he was trying to make. On why the call was cut off, it was likely because the aircraft was fast moving away from the tower and had not come under the coverage of the next one,” sources told the New Straits Times.

 

But the paper also quoted a different source saying that although the line was “reattached”, it did not mean a call was made.

 

According to the report, the plane was flying low enough - under 7,000 feet - for the signal to be picked up by a civilian telecommunications tower on the ground.

 

There was no indication from the sources over why a call could have been made or who to.

 

Fariq and the flight’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, have come under intense scrutiny after the plane mysteriously vanished on its way Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

 

Mr Hussein confirmed on Friday that a criminal investigation is ongoing.

 

“Everyone on board remains under suspicion,” he said.

 

Authorities believe the Boeing 777’s communications were deliberately disabled and radar showed it was flown far off course into the open ocean.

 

Hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board were being considered as possibilities.

 

Ships and aeroplanes are continuing to scour the Indian Ocean for debris while specialist equipment is being used to search underwater for the plane’s missing black boxes.

 

Lizzie Dearden, Independent.co.uk  

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