Malaysia’s prime minister on Saturday said the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had widened to two large corridors as far north as the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border, based on more satellite data about the plane's movements.
Those corridors are from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and from Indonesia to the Southern Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said at a press conference.
“The investigation team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after the last point of contact," he said. "This will help us to refine the search.”
The last confirmed communication between the plane and a satellite was at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time on Saturday, March 8 (8:11 p.m. EDT Friday, March 7) -- more than seven hours after the flight departed from Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. The plane, originally headed to Beijing, did turn back to Malaysia as it approached Vietnamese waters. Prior to that, the aircraft’s computer-assisted reporting system was disabled and then its transponder was turned off.
“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” said Razak, who stopped short of calling it a hijacking.
Military radar picked up the aircraft as it crossed Malaysia heading west and then turned northwest up the Strait of Malacca, Razak said. Military radar coverage ended then, but raw satellite data obtained from the provider revealed the aircraft continued to make contact.
This type of raw data, however, couldn't provide the precise location of the jet when it last made contact with a satellite, leaving authorities with the two large corridors.
“This new satellite information has significant impact on the nature and the scope of the search operation,” Razak said, noting search operations would end in the South China Sea, which lies east of the Malaysian peninsula and was in the original path of the aircraft.
To date, 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft have been involved in the search.
Razak said investigators will seek radar data from countries in the new corridors.
"With this new information we hope this brings us one step closer to finding the plane," he said.