Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was steered off course by someone on the plane, was airborne for more than seven hours and may have traveled as far as Kazakhstan, the prime minster of Malaysia confirmed at a news conference today.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said that although the movements were consistent with deliberate acts, he did not confirm that the plane was hijacked.
"We are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path," he said.
Razak presented a vastly different timeline that what had officials had previously acknowledged - saying for the first time that the last confirmed communication between the plane and a satellite was at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time. The prime minister said the search has expanded to points as far North as Kazakhstan and as far South as the South Indian Ocean - a stretch of more than 5,000 miles.
"Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase," he said.
No questions were allowed at the press conference. A follow-up conference scheduled for 5:30 p.m. local time was later canceled.
The flight was carrying 239 people when it went missing over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam. A frantic search followed, with 14 different countries involved.
The plane’s communication systems were shut down separately, two U.S. officials said., an indication that the plane did not come out of the sky because of a catastrophic failure.
The data reporting system, they believe, was shut down at 1:07 a.m. The transponder – which transmits location and altitude – shut down at 1:21 a.m. The missing flight continued to “ping” a satellite on an hourly basis after it lost contact with radar, senior administration officials told ABC News.