Vietnamese Air Force Col. Pham Minh Tuan uses binoculars on board an aircraft during a mission to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Gulf of Thailand, on March 13, 2014.
A Malaysian official says investigators have concluded that at least one person with considerable flying experience hijacked the missing Malaysia Airlines jet a week ago, turned off its communication systems and steered it away from its intended route
A Malaysian official announced at a press conference on Saturday that investigators have concluded Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared a week ago with 239 people aboard, was hijacked by at least one person with considerable flying experience and steered off-course to avoid radar detection.
Earlier, an official had told the Associated Press in Kuala Lumpur “it is conclusive” that one or more persons trained in aviation had seized control of the Boeing 777-200, deliberately cut off its communications systems and piloted the plane away from its intended route. No motive has been established and no demands are known.
Other theories that gained steam in the last few days, including pilot suicide, an in-flight bomb or mid-air disintegration, are being put on the back-burner after new evidence emerged that the plane flew for hours after losing contact, possibly toward the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.
The aircraft had 227 passengers and 12 crew on board when it departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing at 12:21 a.m. local time on March 8. Its transponder stopped functioning about one hour into the fight and around 14 minutes before a messaging system also failed. Investigators conclude that any gap would be unlikely in the case of an explosion.
Despite a massive search, no wreckage has yet been found in the immediate vicinity of where communication was lost over the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam. Earlier, an American official said investigators were examining the possibility of “human intervention” in the jet’s disappearance, adding it could have resulted from “an act of piracy.”