Four days after Boeing 777 disappeared on its journey from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing, with 239 passengers and crew, the search area was extended. Radar readings suggested the plane had turned and flown west with its transponder and other tracking systems switched off.

Malaysia's popular daily on Tuesday quoted the Air Force chief as saying the plane was last detected by military radar at the northern end of Strait of Malacca at 2.40 am on Saturday.

According to media reports, a non-military source familiar with the investigations said the reported detour was one of several theories and was being checked.

If the plane had made such a detour it would undermine the theory that it suffered a sudden, catastrophic mechanical failure, as it would mean it flew at least 500 km (350 miles) after its last contact with air traffic control.

The aviation officials said MH370's last heard words, “All right Goodnight,” were made in response after Malaysian air traffic controllers told the cockpit that they were entering Vietnamese airspace and that air traffic controllers from Ho Chi Minh city were taking over.

The plane, carrying 239 passengers and crew in all including 153 Chinese nationals, have remained missing since Saturday despite a massive international search operation involving Singapore.

JPN

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