The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared nearly one week ago has expanded to the Indian Ocean.
The search focus shifted to the Indian Ocean region on Friday as authorities said the missing aircraft may have flown for several hours after it dropped off the radar.
Malaysian authorities say they have several “pings” from the plane’s service data system, known as ACARS, sent to satellites in the four to five hours after the last transponder signal. This suggests that the aircraft flew to the Indian Ocean, a top US official told CNN.
Based on the new information, US navy destroyer, the USS Kidd, is heading into the Indian Ocean to start searching that area.
“So this was by request of the Malaysian government. They asked the Navy to move our ship to the west into the Strait of Malacca. … It is coordinated, but certain ships and aircraft stay in the east, and some go to the west. And we’re moving to the west,” Cmdr. William Marks of the US 7th Fleet said on Thursday.
“It’s a completely new game. … Now we have to come up with a new strategy, new tactics,” Marks said, noting that moving into the Indian Ocean is like going “from a chess board to a football field.”
Late Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in Washington that because of new information “an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean.”
The aircraft, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, went missing early on March 8 with 239 people on board, while a search over a vast area has so far failed to discover any clue to its disappearance.
Earlier Thursday, the Malaysian government denied a report by the Wall Street Journal which said the passenger jet was transmitting data after the last transponder signal.
However, US authorities said Thursday afternoon that the information from the plane’s data system was being actively pursued in the plane search.