Rescue teams trying to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 have further expanded the search area beyond the aircraft’s planned flight path as authorities look at the possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang.
In the fourth day since the aircraft disappeared March 8, about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, no trace of the aircraft has been found and no emergency call or distress signal has been received. There were 227 passengers and 12 crew onboard.
“The search and rescue teams have expanded the scope beyond the flight path to the West Peninsular of Malaysia at the Straits of Malacca. The authorities are looking at a possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang. All angles are being looked at. We are not ruling out any possibilities,” Malaysia Airlines said in a statement Tuesday.
Nine aircraft and 24 vessels from Malaysia, Australia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and the US are involved in the massive hunt for the 777. A land search is also being conducted.
Debris and oil slicks found in the search waters do not belong to MH370, Malaysia Airlines confirmed.
The 777-200 aircraft that operated MH370 underwent maintenance Feb. 23, 12 days before the March 8 flight. Maintenance was conducted at the KLIA hangar and there were no issues on the health of the aircraft, the airline said.
“The aircraft was delivered to Malaysia Airlines in 2002 and have since recorded 53,465.21 hours with a total of 7,525 cycles. All Malaysia Airlines aircraft are equipped with continuous data monitoring system called the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) which transmits data automatically. Nevertheless, there were no distress calls and no information was relayed,” Malaysia added.
In a separate statement, said media references to five passengers who allegedly checked in but did not board the flight were not true. Malaysia Airlines clarified that four passengers with valid bookings flight MH370 did not show up to check in for the flight and they never checked any bags.
Malaysia Airlines has set up a special task force to take care of families. Mercy Malaysia and Tzu Chi and others are also helping Malaysia Airlines, providing special psychological counseling to families and also the MH crew. “We regret and empathize with the families and we will do whatever we can to ensure that all basic needs, comfort, psychological support are delivered. We are as anxious as the families to know the status of their loved ones. To the families of the crew onboard MH370, we share your pain and anxiety. They are of the MAS family and we are deeply affected by this unfortunate incident.”