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  1. ITV Report

Missing Malaysia plane 'deliberately diverted'

A Japan Coast Guard explains their search plan in an area of operation. Photo: Reuters

The missing Malaysian Airways flight appears to have been deliberately steered off course after someone on board shut down its communications, according to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Keir Simmons reports from Malaysia:

A week after the disappearance of flight MH370, the Malaysian Prime Minister said its last transmission of satellite data came nearly seven hours after it disappeared from radar screens.

But the new satellite data gave no precise location, and the plane's altered course could have taken it anywhere from central Asia to the southern Indian Ocean, he said.

Minutes after the Malaysian leader outlined investigators' latest findings, police began searching the house of the aircraft's 53-year-old captain for any evidence that he could have been involved in foul play.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of 8th March with 239 passengers and crew aboard.

Najib, giving his first statement at a news conference since then, confirmed reports that investigators believe somebody cut off the plane's communications reporting system, switched off its transponder and steered it west, far from its scheduled route.

Search operations by navies and aircraft from more than a dozen nations were immediately called off in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea to the east of Malaysia, where the plane dropped off civilian air traffic control screens at 1:22 a.m. last Saturday (1722 GMT on Friday). Malaysia said new data showed the last communication between the missing plane and satellites at 8:11 a.m. (0011 GMT), almost seven hours after it turned back and crossed the Malay peninsula. Najib said the plane's final communication with satellites placed it somewhere in one of two corridors: a northern arc stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, or a southern one stretching from Indonesia to the vast southern Indian Ocean.

Authorities are investigating two potential corridors in their search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Credit: ITV News

The experienced captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was a flying enthusiast who spent his off days tinkering with a flight simulator of the plane that he had set up at home, current and former co-workers said. Malaysia Airlines officials did not believe he would have sabotaged the flight.

The 27-year-old co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, was religious and serious about his career, family and friends said, countering news reports suggesting he was a cockpit Romeo who was reckless on the job.

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