Malaysia, Friday, March 14, 2014. Nearly every navy with a presence in Southeast Asia is involved in the extensive search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that disappeared early Saturday. Kyodo News/AP
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday that investigators think the missing Malaysian airliner’s communications were deliberately disabled, that it turned back from its flight to Beijing and flew for more than seven hours.
Najib also said Saturday that authorities are now trying to trace the airplane missing for more than a week across two possible “corridors” — a northern corridor from northern Thailand through to the border of Kazakstan and Turkmenistan, and a southern corridor from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
The announcement Saturday confirms days of mounting speculation that the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board was not accidental.
It means the investigation will now focus on who may have taken control of the plane and why, and that the search area will be vastly expanded.
Najib said that searching in the South China Sea, where the plane first lost contact with air traffic controllers, would be ended. He said the new search corridors were based on the latest available satellite data.
“Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase,” he said. “We hope this new information brings us one step closer to finding the plane.”