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US: ‘Indications’ exist that Malaysian aircraft may have crashed in Indian Ocean

Published time: March 13, 2014 18:26
Edited time: March 13, 2014 19:03
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen from the departure hall at the Hong Kong International Airport June 2, 2011. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen from the departure hall at the Hong Kong International Airport June 2, 2011. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)

The Pentagon is reportedly maneuvering a naval destroyer to the Indian Ocean amid allegations that the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner may have went down much further west then investigators previously thought.

ABC News reported on Thursday that officials in the United States say there’s an “indication” that the plane ended up in the Indian Ocean, and not the South China Sea as widely assumed.

The aircraft, a Boeing 777, disappeared early Saturday morning with 236 people onboard around one hour after departing a Kuala Lumpur airport en route to Beijing. Five days later, officials have yet to discover any sign of the aircraft or associated wreckage, nor have they reached any determinations about the cause of the disappearance.

The USS Kidd, ABC News reported on Thursday, was being rerouted to the Indian Ocean to begin searching for the missing Flight 370 after officials from the US and no fewer than 11 other countries had already begun scouring the waters below the plane’s scheduled flight path for clues.

USS Kidd and USS Pinckney. (Image: U.S. Navy)

Reports of a repositioned search area came on the heels of another claim made by the Wall Street Journal that suggested the plane may have stayed in the air for four-to-five hours after its cockpit lost contact with air traffic controllers, indicating that Flight 370 may have ventured thousands of miles off course after it ceased communicating if the paper's claim is correct.

Thursday afternoon in Washington, DC, White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged what he said were yet-to-be conclusive claims about the plane being much further west off course than initially believed.

“There are a number of possible scenarios that are being investigated as to what happened to the flight, and we are not in a position at this point to make conclusions about what happened, unfortunately,” Carney said.

When questioned about ABC News’ alleged “indication” regarding the Indian Ocean, Carney said that the White House is “looking at information, pursuing possible leads [and] working within the investigation being led by the Malaysian government, and it is my understanding that one possible piece of information — or collection of pieces of information — has led to the possibility that a new area, a search area, may be opened in the Indian Ocean.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

The US is “Consulting with international partner about the appropriate actions to deploy,” Carney said, but reiterated that the investigation is being led by authorities in Malaysia.

"We are making available to Malaysia substantial assets to assist in the search for that flight so that we can ascertain what happened to it for the sake of the families who are suffering even now this many days after the flight disappeared," Carney said.

According to a report by the Associated Press published on Thursday, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the nation’s main search efforts remained east of the Malaysian peninsula, far from the Indian Ocean. At the same time, however, the AP also reported that Malaysian officials acknowledged expanding that search into part of the Indian Ocean northwest of the Strait of Malacca. The AP also said that India planned to send ships and aircraft to those waters as well.