Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Military radar shows jet could have been 'hijacked' and then flown towards Andaman Islands

Official sources claim military radar data suggests missing flight could have been deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course

The missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner could have been deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course towards the Andaman Islands, sources familiar with the investigation have said.

Two sources said an unidentified aircraft, which investigators suspect was missing Flight MH370, appeared to be following a route between navigational waypoints when it was last spotted early on Saturday, north-west of Malaysia.

The last plot on military radar tracking suggests the plane was headed towards India's Andaman Islands, a chain of isles between the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

Waypoints are geographic locations calculated using longitude and latitude to help pilots navigate along established air corridors.

This indicates the flight was with being flown by the pilots or by someone with knowledge of the route, the sources say.

A senior Malaysian police official source said inquiries are now increasingly looking at the theory that someone who knew how to fly a plane deliberately diverted the flight hundreds of miles off its scheduled course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

“What we can say is we are looking at sabotage, with hijack still on the cards," the source told Reuters news agency.

Malaysian authorities previously confirmed they were investigating whether any passengers or crew had personal or psychological problems, alongside the possibility of a hijacking, sabotage or mechanical failure.

The three sources said that this new evidence has caused multinational search efforts to be increased in both the Andaman Sea and also the Indian Ocean.

At a press conference on Friday, Malaysia’s Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein said investigators were examining the possibility that the plane’s transponder was deliberately shut down. He also said police were looking into the background of all the passengers and crew.

“There are four or five possibilities which we are exploring. It could have been done intentionally, it could be done under duress, it could have been done because of an explosion,” he said. “That’s why I don’t want to go into the realm of speculation. We are looking at the all the possibilities.”

Meanwhile, VSR Murthy, a senior official with the Indian Coastguard, said Indian assets were now searching not only along the eastern coast of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, but was looking at the islands themselves.

The last sighting of the aircraft on civilian radar screens came just before 1.30 am on Saturday, less than an hour after take-off when the plane was flying as scheduled on Malaysia's east coast, heading towards Beijing.

A crying woman is escorted to a bus for relatives at the Beijing Airport after news of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane A crying woman is escorted to a bus for relatives at the Beijing Airport after news of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane However, Malaysia's air force chief said on Wednesday that an aircraft that could have been the missing plane was plotted on military radar at 2.15 am, 200 miles (320 km) northwest of Penang Island off Malaysia's west coast.

A fourth source familiar with the investigation told Reuters this position marks the limit of Malaysia's military radar in that region.

If the plane was MH370, had lost contact with air traffic control and was invisible to civilian radar, this could suggest that someone on board had turned off its communication systems, the first two sources added.

They also provided fresh details on the direction in which the unidentified aircraft was heading.

The sources said it was following aviation corridors identified on maps used by pilots as N571 and P628. These are routes taken by commercial planes flying from Southeast Asia to the Middle East or Europe.

The first two sources said  MH370's last confirmed position was at 35,000 feet about 90 miles (144 km) off the east coast of Malaysia at 1.21am, heading towards Vietnam, near a navigational waypoint called "Igari".

From there, the plot indicates the plane flew towards a waypoint known as "Gival", south of the Thai island of Phuket, and was last plotted heading northwest towards another waypoint called "Igrex", on route P628.

This would take it over the Andaman Islands, which carriers use to fly towards Europe.

The time was then 2.15 am - the same time given by the air force chief on Wednesday.

Earlier, a US official told The Associated Press that the plane sent signals to a satellite for four hours after it disappeared, raising the possibility the jet could have flown far from the current search areas.

The “pings” sent by the plane provided information about the speed at which it was travelling and its altitude but not its precise location. The last ping was apparently sent when the plane was above water.

Read More: Officials say aircraft kept 'pinging' hours

If the plane had disintegrated during flight or had suffered some other catastrophic failure, all signals — the pings to the satellite, the data messages and the transponder — would be expected to stop at the same time.

Now, experts are speculating that a pilot or passengers with technical expertise may have switched off the transponder in the hope of flying undetected.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
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

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam