"Turnback" confirmed as missing MH370: report

The 'unknown' contact that had made the turnback has been confirmed as the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a Malaysian media report has said.

New information released yesterday showed that as the flight reached waypoint Igari in the South China Sea and headed west, its transponder was still transmitting data, reported newspaper New Straits Times.

"The flight was still squawking as it made the turnback," a "highly-placed source" told the daily.

"The reason why we can safetly say that the unidentified contact was MH370 is because when it made that turnback, it was still squawking its IDENT number (MH370) and this was registered on the radar screen, meaning the radar was still on."

This data was then cross-checked with "other sensors" and analysed, the source added.

Mini radars placed along the route flown by the plane carrying 239 people were also checked, another source said, as there had also been reports of a low-flying aircraft by villagers in the east coast.

This data is consistent with the Malaysian Armed Forced statement on Wednesday that military radar had detected an unidentified civilian aircraft flying towards the Andaman Sea about 200km northwest of Penang.

The Boeing 777 flight lost radar contact with air traffic control at around 1.20am on March 8, about 50 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur Internaitonal Airport for Beijing.

Malaysian officials said a blip was spotted at 2.15am over the Andaman Sea, 45 minutes after the flight made a turnback at waypoint Igari. But they could not confirm if it was MH370.

Malaysian authorities have not ruled out a hijacking, and were looking at sabotage, news wire reports said.

Quoting a report, New Straits Times said the military radar evidence suggested that the jetliner was deliberately flown across peninsula Malaysia towards the Andaman islands.

It added, quoting two sources, that investigators believed it was flight MH370 and that it was flown by someone with flight training, as the plane was following a route between navigational waypoints.