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Fresh leads emerge in aircraft disappearance, Malaysia denies

Thursday, 13 March 2014 - 5:18pm IST | Agency: PTI

Fresh leads emerged today on the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner with US investigators reportedly suggesting that it may have kept flying for four hours after its last radio contact and China releasing satellite images of possible crash site.

Malaysia, however, denied the reports that the Boeing 777 with 239 people on board may have flown for hours after it vanished from radar screens, saying they were "incorrect", as the multi-nation hunt for the missing jet entered the sixth day today.

Deflating yet another lead, it also said that planes sent to search the area where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris found nothing.

India has deployed three warships along with four surveillance aircraft including the latest P-8I anti-submarine warfare plane in the search operations.

Malaysia's acting Transport minister Hishamuddin Ahmed told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur that reports that the plane MH370 flew beyond the last recorded transmission time of 0107 am local time on Saturday were totally "incorrect".

Rolls Royce and Boeing are cooperating and they did not receive any transmission after 0107 am local time on Saturday, he said.

"That was the last transmission," Ahmed said.

Deepening the mystery, The Wall Street Journal reported that US investigators suspect that the jet flew on for four hours once it lost contact with air traffic controllers.

The suspicion is based on data from the plane's engines that are automatically downloaded and transmitted to the ground as part of routine maintenance programmes.

On the suspected floating debris images by Chinese satellites, Ahmed said a plane sent to look for them could find nothing.

"The Chinese satellite images were released by mistake," he said but did not elaborate.

The minister said unless any debris was found "we cannot think we have moved forward in the probe." Vietnam also said its aircraft and ships have not found any debris said to have been spotted by Chinese satellites.

China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in Beijing that Chinese satellites found three floating objects at a suspected site of the missing plane but it was not sure whether it was the debris of the aircraft. The objects were observed in waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Ahmed admitted that with each passing day the search became more difficult.

He said the main search efforts were in South China Sea and noted, "We may have to include other countries as well if we have to expand our search later.

Civil Aviation Department Chief Azharuddin Rahman said "we have cooperation from the Indian government to help us search the Andaman sea." The Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea has been included since Sunday but the search there has remained futile so far.

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