Published — Friday 14 March 2014
Last update 20 May 2014 7:15 pm
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is working with US investigators to establish if there is any satellite information that could help locate an airliner with 239 people on board that has been missing for nearly a week, a senior government official said.
"They indicated they were studying the possibility of satellite communication. Whatever they have and will share with us," Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the head of Malaysia's Civil Aviation Authority, said.
Two sources close to the investigation said earlier that satellites picked up faint electronic pulses from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 after it went missing on Saturday, but the signals gave no information about where the stray jet was heading and little else about its fate.
Malaysia's transport minister meanwhile confirmed that the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane had been expanded into the Indian Ocean, but declined to comment on US reports that the jet had flown for hours after going missing.
"The aircraft is still missing, and the search area is expanding," said Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
"Together with our international partners, we are pushing further east into the South China Sea and further into the Indian Ocean," he added.
Stressing that he could offer no new information on what happened to Flight MH370 which disappeared last Saturday, Hishammuddin refused to address US media reports, citing unidentified US officials, that the Boeing 777 had flown for an additional four or five hours after vanishing from civilian radar.
"We do not want to be drawn into specific remarks that unnamed officials have reportedly made in the media," he said.
The US reports were based on information that the plane's communication system continued to "ping" a satellite for up to four hours after it disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
A US Navy official said the destroyer USS Kidd was being sent to the Indian Ocean -- on the opposite side of the Malaysian peninsula from where contact was lost -- to investigate.
But Hishammuddin insisted that the main reason for widening the search field was the failure to locate the plane in the areas searched so far.
"A normal investigation becomes narrower with time," he said.
"But this is not a normal investigation. In this case, the information we have forces us to look further and further afield."