Searchers are reported to be considering they are looking for flight MH370 in the wrong place, as the hunt for the missing airliner continues to draw a blank.
"The thought of it landing somewhere else is possible as we have not found a single piece of debris that could be linked to MH370," Malaysia's New Straits Times quoted an official saying.
Members of the International Investigation Team (IIT) based in Kuala Lumpur were thinking of starting from the beginning in the search for the plane.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.
The possibility it landed somewhere other than in the current southern Indian Ocean search area was being considered, the Straits Times said.
"We may have to look into this if no positive results come back in the next few days - but at the same time the search mission in the Indian Ocean will go on," an official said.
"The thought of it landing somewhere else is possible as we have not found a single piece of debris that could be linked to MH370.
"However, the possibility of a specific country hiding the plane when more than 20 nations are searching for it seems absurd."
Pinger signals were picked up in the search area this month, with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott telling reporters he was confident the signals were from the aircraft's black box flight recorder.
But unmanned submarine Bluefin-21 has failed to find any traces of the aircraft after scouring 80 per cent of an area targeted after the pings were picked up.
The sounds could have come from sources other than the emergency beacons, the Washington Post quoted Peter Herzig, executive director of the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Oceanographic Research in Germany, as saying.
With all the planes and ships combing the Indian Ocean for signs of debris, it was unusual to draw a total blank, Herzig said.
Given that the force of an aircraft hitting the ocean was similar to a collision with concrete, at least some debris should have been left floating.
MH370 vanished from civilian radars while headed north over the Gulf of Thailand. It is believed to have doubled back and flown over Peninsular Malaysia and on into some of the world's most remote waters.
While the motive behind that heading remains unknown, MH370 was deliberately steered south on a path ending in the Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said.
The search for the plane has entered its 46th day - the longest hunt for a missing passenger plane in modern aviation history.
The Daily Mail has resurrected previous reports that fishermen and villagers in northeast Malaysia had filed official statements with police claiming to have seen, or heard, a low-flying aircraft at the time MH370 lost all contact with ground control.
Their descriptions of a "very loud engine" and headlights like those switched on by an aircraft about to land at night suggested that the aircraft was flying to the west, across jungle, very fast, at a low altitude.
The Malaysian Government has announced death certificates will be issued for the passengers and crew on board the plane. That will allow relatives to receive financial aid and potentially start legal action against Malaysia Airlines.
CNN reported the plane had now been missing long enough for US attorneys to move in. US lawyers had to wait 45 days before approaching families that had lost a loved one in a plane crash.
Having passed that mark, families could file suit in US courts against Boeing Co, with some relatives hoping such moves might bring new information to light.
The New Straits Times reported that it was understood the IIT had not been receiving as much information from countries as it had hoped.
"We have mainly been provided with selective data," a source said.
Because the information potentially involved the national security of the country from which it was requested, only partial raw data had been provided, making it difficult for Malaysian authorities to get the full picture.
"The data involved would be official information, so the (foreign) country cannot simply give it to us on paper or in soft copy - they will select only the ones that can be revealed."
The Malaysians had asked the US Government to view data collected by its secret base, Pine Gap, in the Australian outback.
The request had been denied, sources said, after the US had said that no contact had been made with MH370.
- Stuff, Washington Post
- Fairfax Media
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