The Malaysian government yesterday released a report on the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, with investigators saying the aircraft was probably deliberately steered off course and flown to the southern Indian Ocean.
The head of the Malaysian safety investigation team, Mr Kok Soo Chon, told a news conference they established that the aircraft "had turned back" under "manual control", but were unable to determine why it did so.
"We can conclude that MH370 had turned back and the turn-back was not because of anomalies in the mechanical system. The turn-back was made not under autopilot but under manual control," he said in a press conference yesterday.
The report said about the aircraft's change in course: "It is more likely that such manoeuvres are due to the systems being manipulated."
The largely technical 400-page report also said "the team does not exclude the possibility of intervention by a third party".
Relatives of those missing said they were angry after finding out that there was nothing new in the government report.
They were briefed yesterday at the transport ministry before the report's public release.
A total of 239 people boarded the MH370 flight in Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014, including its 12 crew members. The flight was headed to Beijing. The majority of the passengers were from China, with 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians and several others from other countries, including France and the United States.
The flight left Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am, but stopped communicating with ground control before deviating from its planned route two hours after takeoff, according to data from military radar.
Investigators tracked MH370's route using satellite data and believe the plane headed south over the Indian Ocean for about six hours before plummeting into the water.
"The team is unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance of MH370," the report concluded. It also said that investigators would not eliminate the possibility of "unlawful interference".
Asked to clarify, Mr Kok said: "Could you say unlawful interference could have (occurred)? I do not know; it's best for the police to say. I'm not ruling out anything."
Mr Kok said it was wrong to say this would be the "final report" on MH370. "How can we call our report the final report? The answer can only be conclusive if the wreckage is found," he said.
To date, the only confirmed traces of the Boeing 777 aircraft have been three wing fragments washed up on Indian Ocean coasts.
Ms Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband was a flight steward on the flight, told reporters as quoted by AFP: "I am frustrated. There is nothing new in the report."