The Malaysian transport minister on Thursday dismissed claims that the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft may have flown on for about four hours past the time it disappeared off tracking systems.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the plane, and the 239 people on board, could have flown on for an additional distance of about 2,200 miles (3,500 km), potentially reaching the border of Pakistan or as far as destinations in the Indian Ocean or Arabian Sea. The paper cited two people familiar with the details.
However, Malaysia's Transport Minister Seri Hishammuddin said at a news conference that this report was wrong and that their search efforts had always been focused on the South China Sea. CNN also reported, citing a "senior aviation source," that there was no evidence to suggest the plane kept flying for four hours after disappearing off radar.
The last definitive sighting of the aircraft on civilian radar screens came shortly before 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, as it flew northeast across the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand bound for Beijing.
Malaysian Airlines' CEO told a press conference Thursday that the last data transmission from the plane was recorded about 30 minutes after take-off. Ahmad Jauhari Yahya also said that Boeing and Rolls Royce did not receive any further data from the missing plane.
No traces of the Boeing aircraft travelling to Beijing, China's capital city, have been found even as a multinational search effort has extended its search area.
Responding to criticisms of the Malaysian authorities' investigation in to the missing plane, Hishammuddin emphasized that the situation was "unprecedented," adding: "We are devoting all our energies to the task at hand, and I want to be very clear: Our focus has been on finding the aircraft, we have not done anything that could jeopardize this search effort."