Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan say detected no unidentified planes on March 8

ALMATY (REUTERS) – Central Asian neighbours Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan said on Monday that no unidentified planes had crossed their air space on March 8, making it unlikely that missing Malaysia Arlines flight MH370 could have been diverted along a northern route via Thailand.

The plane, which vanished with 239 people aboard, could hypothetically have reached Kazakhstan’s air space, but it would have been detected there, the Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee said in a detailed statement sent to Reuters.

“Even if all on-board equipment is switched off, it is impossible to fly through in a silent mode,” said the statement signed by the committee’s deputy head Serik Mukhtybayev. “There are also military bodies monitoring the country’s air space.”

Malaysia Airlines planes had made nine regular flights to and from Europe over Kazakhstan’s territory on March 8, Mr Mukhtybayev said.

“Even hypothetically thinking, before reaching Kazakhstan’s territory, this plane would have had to fly over other countries along its route, where the flight zone is also closely monitored, so we would have received information from these countries,” he added.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday called Mr Almazbek Atambayev, the president of Kazakhstan’s neighbour Kyrgyzstan, saying the route of the diverted plane could have crossed his country as well, Mr Atambayev’s press service said.

Mr Najib asked the Kyrgyz leader to provide any information that could help the investigation, it added.

Kyrgyz civil aviation authorities ruled out any possibility of the airliner disappearing in or near Kyrgyzstan.

“No, this plane did not fly over Kyrgyzstan’s territory,” said Mr Dair Tokobayev, vice-president of Kyrgyzstan’s main civilian airport Manas near the capital Bishkek.

“We have two military air bases – a US and a Russian one - deployed in our country and equipped with pretty serious radar equipment, so they would have detected this plane.”

Suspicions of hijacking or sabotage had hardened further when officials said on Sunday that the last radio message from the plane – an informal “all right, good night” - was spoken after the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was shut down.