The Malaysian military said Tuesday they may have tracked missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 fly hundreds of miles off course to the Strait of Malacca after its last contact with air traffic control and apparent transponder switch-off.
The Strait of Malacca runs along Malaysia’s west coast, and is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. If accurate, the new radar information released by an unidentified Malaysian military official would put the missing Boeing 777 on the opposite side of Malaysia from its last confirmed position, CBS reports.
It would also mean the flight made a major course correction mid-flight and flew below standard radar-detection altitude heading back to Malaysia without alerting air traffic control, and after having its location transponder and tracking systems switched off or disabled.
The flight of 227 passengers and 12 crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing last had contact Saturday off the east coast Malaysian town of Kota Bharu. Less than an hour into the flight, the plane lost all contact and disappeared without any distress signal or emergency transmission.
Malaysia’s extensive search effort, which has so far consisted of more than 40 planes and ships from at least 10 nations, has been extended to the Malacca Strait after an initial focus in the South China Sea.
No physical trace of the aircraft has been found, and initial speculation of terrorism sparked by the identification of two passengers traveling with stolen passports has been ruled unlikely, according to Interpol.