Malaysia's deputy defence minister clarifies air control did not ask MH370 to turn back

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri admitted he assumed that the Subang air traffic control had asked Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 to turn back, adding that his assumption was not accurate.

His comments added to the often confusing and contradictory statements made by Malaysian authorities over the Boeing 777 plane that went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board, Malaysian Insider reported on Thursday.

Mr Abdul Rahim had told parliament the day before that MH370 did a turn back probably because it received instructions from the Subang air traffic control.

"I want to clarify that it was just my assumption and one of the possibilities that could have happened,'' the news portal quoted him as saying.

"After making checks, I would like to stress that my assumption is not accurate," he said in a two-paragraph statement.

Malaysia has come under severe criticism after it was revealed that the military radar tracked an unidentified aircraft - now confirmed to be flight MH370 - but did not take any action.

After more than two weeks of searching for the aircraft, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on March 24 that the flight had ended in the southern Indian Ocean, with MAS saying there could be no survivors.

Investigators are now trying to ascertain what brought MH370 to a remote area in the southern Indian Ocean, where search operation is currently focused.