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Malaysian minister refutes report that MH370 co-pilot made mid-air phone call

Published on Apr 13, 2014 3:42 PM
 
Malaysian Minister of Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (centre) speaks during a press conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on April 12, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP 

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has refuted a front-page report of a local newspaper which said that the co-pilot of the MH370 aircraft had made a telephone call when it was flying low near Penang.

Mr Hishammuddin said by right, he should have been aware of it (the phone call) earlier, if the claim by the newspaper was true.

"I cannot comment (on the newspaper report) because if it is true, we would have known about it much earlier," Mr Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, told reporters on Saturday, Bernama reported.

He said he had adopted the approach not to confirm anything without any corroboration or verification since the beginning when flight MH370 was reported missing.

He also said it was irresponsible for any quarters to take the opportunity to make a baseless report.

The search team, the minister said, had received numerous indicators in the South China Sea, satellite images by China, claims of finding safety jackets and boats to oil spills, the search and rescue expanded to the South China Sea, Andaman Sea and now in the Indian Ocean.

"We received numerous leads and we followed them but unfortunately, it was a roller-coaster ride, whereby we received information and investigated (them) but they were baseless," he added.

He hoped the public understood what he was going through because such baseless information not only affected operations but also the families of the passengers and the crew of the aircraft.

Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am on March 8, and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have landed in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day.

Meanwhile, Mr Hishammuddin also announced the names of two senior officers of the Department Of Civil Aviation who would fly to Australia soon to join the Joint Agency Coordinating Centre.

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