Investigators Narrow Focus to Malaysian Flight Pilots as More Possible Debris Found
"The finger of suspicion is pointing towards the pilots," a source told the UK Telegraph this weekend about the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, as China, Australia, and France all report satellite images of debris in the southern Indian Ocean potentially linked to the flight.
The Telegraph's multiple sources report that authorities have collectively narrowed their investigation to the two pilots: Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid. All believe that it was a "deliberate act" and have ruled out the possibility of an accident or a fire that rendered everyone in the cockpit unconscious. The many background checks on passengers on the flight have also made increasingly unlikely the possibility of a passenger rushing the cockpit and taking control of the plane, the sources said.
The lack of a distress signal, the aviation expertise required to divert the plane, and the timing of the plane's disappearance – after its last contact with Malaysian air traffic control but before contacting Vietnam – all suggest someone in the cockpit who knew how to fly a Boeing 777 flew the plane in the wrong direction on purpose.
The updates from the Telegraph surface as the search for the plane, missing without a trace for more than two weeks, narrows to what investigators call the "southern corridor" of the search. On Thursday, Australian officials found satellite images of what they believed could be debris from the plane. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that unidentified objects were seen on satellite footage about 1,500 miles off the city of Perth, including "a wooden pallet." While several days of searches did not find the object live, the Prime Minister described the findings as bringing "increased hope" of a resolution to the mystery soon.
With several days passing without indication of new clues, Malaysian acting transportation minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced that China had indicated to Malaysia that it had found satellite images of floating debris near where Australia had announced its discovery. Hishammuddin also denied that the Telegraph had acquired a transcript of the last hour of communication between Flight 370 and air traffic control, released Saturday. The Telegraph's transcript shows no signs of distress and indicates that the plane left Malaysian airspace before disappearing from radar.
This morning, Malaysian authorities announced that French satellites had also found debris near the area that Australia and China had focused their search. According to ABC News, Australian authorities also announced today that a civilian search plane found a wooden pallet and "what appeared to be strapping belts of different colors," but they had yet to recover the debris from the water and it could have potentially fallen off of a cargo ship. Nonetheless, the new French images add to the growing consensus that the search group is near finding a breakthrough discovery on the whereabouts of the plane, and new fleets of search vehicles have been deployed to the area.