NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — There were significant new developments on Saturday in the search for a Malaysia Airlines plane that has been missing for more than a week.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a news conference that Flight MH 370 did not disappear off the radar by accident, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
The prime minister said the plane strayed from its flight path en route to Beijing and continued flying for more than six hours after losing contact with air traffic control.
Investigators also believe that the plane’s communications systems were deliberately disabled, CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” Prime Minister Najib Razak said.
The plane’s final communication came seven hours and 31 minutes after take off at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time on Saturday, March 8.
Airline officials said that the plane had enough fuel to fly for up to about eight hours.
The prime minister said that authorities are trying to trace the airplane across two possible corridors. One is a stretch from Northern Thailand through the border of Kazakstan and Turkmenistan, the other covers an area from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
The announcement confirmed days of mounting speculation that the disappearance of the Boeing 777, which was carrying 239 people, may not have been accidental.
Razak said that the investigation will continue to focus on who, if anyone, may have taken control of the plane and why.
“We are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH 370 to deviate from its original flight path,” he explained.
While search crews scour thousands of square miles of land and sea for clues, Malaysian authorities are re-examining the psychological backgrounds of both pilots.
Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Sha, 53, has more than 18,000 flight hours and has flown with Malaysia Airlines since 1981. Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, only recently began flying Boeing 777s.
Plain-clothed police were seen visiting the homes of both men, Sanchez reported.
Sha’s close friend Peter Chong insists Sha could not be responsible for the flight’s disappearance.
“If something had happened to this flight. I would think, in fact, I would believe that he would have made sure of the safety and welfare of everyone else before himself. That’s the kind of person that he is,” Chong said.
The prime minister said that it is still too early to tell if the plane had been hijacked. He said that all possibilities are still being investigated.
The ongoing search for the plane has involved 14 countries, 43 ships, and 58 aircraft.
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