Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 could be anywhere within a 7.68 million square kilometer area, authorities said Tuesday, leaving a mass of land and sea the size of Australia in which the plane could be found.
According to Reuters, Malaysian Acting Transport Minister and current Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced the expansion of the search Tuesday, as well as the expanded role of Australia and China in searching for the missing plane in their respective territories. Calling the search “unique” and “unprecedented,” Hishammuddin reiterated the latest on the plane’s disappearance: automatic “pings” from the plane to military radar have indicated that it went down in one of two “corridors” of area. The northern corridor expands through India, China, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan; the southern corridor encompasses much of the ocean off the coast of Australia. The total area searched, however, is larger than ever and now the size of the island continent.
Reuters also notes one new development that places another point on the map detailing the few places over which investigators know for certain Flight 370 was once flying. Thai authorities found the plane on their radar records of that night, flying across the Malaysian peninsula towards Thailand.
That report follows another of the first sightings of the plane since it disappeared. The biggest newspaper in the Maldives, a small archipelago near India, spoke to “eyewitnesses” who claim they saw a “low flying jumbo jet” on the morning of March 8, at around the time such a plane would have been able to make it as far west as the Maldives from Kuala Lumpur. The same reports on the Maldives residents revealed that Malaysian authorities had found a number of runways on the pilot’s home simulator in the Indian Ocean, including one in the Maldives. The Maldives has not yet been included as one of the 26 countries working to find the plane, though India, it’s close neighbor, is using resources to search the area.
The pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, has been at the center of the investigation into the plane’s disappearance since authorities announced they believed the plane was rerouted by someone with significant aviation experience, but China’s investigation into the Chinese citizens on the plane found no evidence that anyone on board had significant aviation experience or thorough knowledge of a Boeing 777. Malaysian authorities retracted a claim they made originally this week, however, that the pilot had spoken to air traffic control after communications systems had shut down.