The international community is ramping up search efforts to track down missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein reports that 25 countries are now involved in the search.
Investigators confirmed that the plane continued to fly for hours after its two main data communication systems had been switched off. What’s more, Malaysian Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari said Flight 370 copilot Fariq Abdul Hamid signed off from ground control after the plane’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System had already been switched off. The finding fueled suspicions that the plane’s pilots were involved the derailment.
“This was not an accident,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R – TX) of the House Homeland Security Committee. “It was an intentional, deliberate act.”
Rep. Pete King, also a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said nothing at this time indicates the plane was hijacked by terrorists. Nevertheless, the FBI is investigating the backgrounds of all 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the plane.
Britain’s Daily Mirror reported that Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a supporter of jailed Malaysian resident Anwar Ibrahim. Ibrahim was jailed by the Malaysian government just hours before Flight 370 took off. Shah is seen in a picture dug up by the Mirror wearing a “Democracy is Dead” shirt. Shah’s shirt and his support for Ibrahim led some to wonder whether the flight’s departure could have been an act of protest by Shah.
One of Shah’s friends, Peter Chong, rejects the idea that Shah would have willingly been involved in the flight’s derailment.
“If I am on a flight, I would choose Capt. Zaharie,” Chong said. “He is dedicated to his job, he is a professional and he loves flying.”
Authorities are currently trying to trace the plane across two corridors. The northern corridor spans from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan. The southern corridor runs from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
The Malaysian government says both possible routes are of “equal importance” to the search.