| KUALA LUMPUR, March 11
KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 The Malaysian military
believes an airliner missing for almost four days with 239
people on board flew for more than an hour after vanishing from
air traffic control screens, changing course and travelling west
over the Strait of Malacca, a senior military source said.
Malaysian authorities have previously said flight MH370
disappeared about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur
for the Chinese capital Beijing.
At the time it was roughly midway between Malaysia's east
coast town of Kota Bharu and the southern tip of Vietnam, flying
at 35,000 ft (10,670 metres).
"It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower
altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait," the military
official, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters.
The Strait of Malacca, one of the world's busiest shipping
channels, runs along Malaysia's west coast.
Earlier on Tuesday, Malaysia's Berita Harian newspaper
quoted air force chief Rodzali Daud as saying the Malaysia
Airlines plane was last detected by military radar at
2:40 a.m. on Saturday, near the island of Pulau Perak at the
northern end of the Strait of Malacca. It was flying at a height
of about 9,000 metres (29,500 ft), he was quoted as saying.
"The last time the flight was detected close to Pulau Perak,
in the Melaka Straits, at 2.40 a.m. by the control tower before
the signal was lost," the paper quoted Rodzali as saying.
A non-military source familiar with the investigations said
the report was being checked.
"This report is being investigated by the DCA (Department of
Civil Aviation) and the search and rescue team," the source
said. "There are a lot of such reports."
The time given by Rodzali was an hour and 10 minutes after
the plane vanished from air traffic control screens over Igari
waypoint, midway between Malaysia and Vietnam.
There was no word on what happened to the plane thereafter.
If the reports from the military are verified, it would mean
the plane was able to maintain a cruising altitude and flew for
about 500 km (350 miles) with its transponder and other tracking
systems apparently switched off.
Malaysia has extended the massive search operation for the
plane to the Malacca Strait after initially focusing on the
South China Sea.