Officials were no closer to solving the mystery of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 Thursday as they denied a report that data has emerged showing that the plane was still flying four hours after leaving radar screens.
Malaysia's transport minister dismissed a report in the Wall Street Journal that the aircraft’s engines had continued to transmit data long after the plane’s last confirmed position.
At a news conference that once again provided more questions than answers, Hishammuddin Hussein said: "As far as both Rolls-Royce and Boeing are concerned, those reports are inaccurate."
However, asked if it were possible that the plane kept flying for several hours, he said, "of course, this is why we have extended the search."
The WSJ report came a day after former NTSB crash investigator Greg Feith told NBC News that mounting evidence pointed to a deliberate act, and that the hunt for the plane was likely to turn into a criminal inquiry.
Hussein said the “unprecedented” sea search would continue into its sixth day, adding that there had been no sign of debris in the area where China’s satellites had spotted wreckage, and that the images were released by China by "mistake."
"The plane vanished. We owe it to the families to continue searching. We will not give up."
A police official at Thursday's news conference denied reports that the pilots’ homes had been searched.
The airline’s chief executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, said the last data transmission from the aircraft to Boeing and engine maker Rolls Royce had been at 1.07 a.m. on Saturday (12.07 p.m. Friday ET).
The last confirmed radar position of the plane, heading towards China over the South China Sea, was at 1.27 a.m. on Saturday (12.27 p.m. Friday ET).
The multi-national search team is combing two bodies of water on either side of Malaysia, covering 27,000 square nautical miles - an area the size of the Caribbean.
First published March 13 2014, 3:12 AM