Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Hunt for missing jet hampered by lack of international cooperation

Background checks on all 154 Chinese nationals did not uncover any evidence suggesting they were involved in hijacking or an act of terrorism, officials say

Kuala Lumpur

Fears are growing that the hunt for missing Flight MH370 is being hampered by failures by many of the countries involved to work together on the search.

10 days after the aircraft disappeared, Thailand's military said yesterday that its radar detected a plane that may have been the Malaysia Airlines jet, minutes after its communications went down, but did not share the data earlier because officials “did not pay any attention to it” and were not specifically asked for it.

Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn admitted Thai authorities could not be sure the aircraft picked up by the radar was the missing plane carrying 239 passengers and crew, but the new information raised further questions about the effectiveness of search efforts, which are being coordinated by Malaysian authorities.

Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.40am Malaysian time on 8 March, destination Beijing. The plane’s transponder, which allows air traffic controllers to identify and track it, stopped communicating at 1.20am.

At 1.28am, Thai military radar “was able to detect a signal, which was not a normal signal, of a plane flying in the direction opposite from the MH370 plane,” back toward Kuala Lumpur, Montol said. The plane later turned right, towards the Malacca strait.

 

Click to launch the infographic

Click for larger image

When asked why it took so long to release the information, Montol said "…we did not pay any attention to it. The Royal Thai Air Force only looks after any threats against our country," adding that Malaysia's initial request for information in the early days of the search was not specific.

Relatives desperate for information on the fate of loved ones on board the missing jet have reportedly threatened to go on hunger strike if the authorities in Kuala Lumpur are not more forthcoming.

“What we want is the truth,” one woman said, after a meeting with Malaysian authorities, according to the BBC. “Don’t let the passengers become the victims of a political fight.”

READ MORE: Courtney Love 'finds' missing plane 
SIMON CALDER ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
SUICIDE, PIRACY, TERRORISM: THE THEORIES SO FAR
GRACE DENT: IF THIS is TERRORISM, IT IS A NEW LEVEL OF TERRIFYING
DID JETLINER FLY INTO AREA CONTROLLED BY TALIBAN?
ORDINARY LIVES OF FLIGHT CREW

Speaking yesterday, the official leading the hunt for missing Flight MH370 dismissed criticism voiced by officials in China and the US that Malaysia had itself been reluctant to share information with foreign governments. He said such was the desire to find the plane, that Malaysia had shared information with other countries that could potentially weaken its national security.

“The entire search area is now 2.24 million square nautical miles. This is an enormous search area,” said Malaysia’s Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein. “And it is something that Malaysia cannot possibly search on its own. I am therefore very pleased that so many countries have come forward to offer assistance and support to the search and rescue operation.”

The search now covers more than 2.2 million nautical square miles – an area the size of Australia. At least 25 countries are involved in the operation. Yet there still remains not a single physical trace of the plane or the people who boarded eleven days ago.

Officials were last night still searching along two arcs that cut north and south through swathes of Asia. It is believed that it was from somewhere along this line that the final “ping” satellite signal from the plane was sent. Amid speculation about which way the plane might have turned, officials say both areas remain equally important to investigators.

Mr Hussein spoke as investigators continued to focus attention on both the passengers and crew of the plane, searching for any clues as to who may have been responsible for diverting the jet off course. Over the weekend, officials said they believed the actions of the plane as it veered from its planned route and turned sharply West, were consistent with the intentional action of someone onboard.

Mr Hussein said Aust ralia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea were sending additional hardware to search in the massive southern Indian ocean. He said he had also spoken with US defence secretary Chuck Hagel, given the US’s search and rescue capabilities. He said he had also spoken with his counterparts in China, which had also vowed to help search in China itself and along the so-called southern corridor.

Meanwhile, checks into the background of the more than 150 Chinese citizens on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner have uncovered no links to terrorism, the Chinese ambassador in Kuala Lumpur said.

The remarks will dampen speculation that Uighur Muslim separatists in far western Xinjiang province might have been involved with the disappearance of the jet.

At least 26 countries are now assisting in the search for the plane, intensifying challenges of co-ordinating ground, sea and aerial efforts.

Additional reporting by agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect