US looking at Indian Ocean for missing Malaysian plane based on new information

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – A new search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean as authorities try to determine what happened to missing Malaysian airliner MH370, the White House said on Thursday.

“It’s my understanding that based on some new information that’s not necessarily conclusive – but new information – an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “And we are consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy.”

Mr Carney did not specify the nature of the “new information.”

The United States has been helping in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, including the deployment of US Navy vessels.

“There are a number of possible scenarios that are being investigated as to what happened to the flight. And we are not in a position at this time to make conclusions about what happened, unfortunately. But we’re actively participating in the search,” Mr Carney told a regular news briefing. 

“We’re looking at information, pursuing possible leads, working within the investigation being led by the Malaysian government," he added.

Meanwhile, a senior Pentagon official told ABC News that a guided missile destroyer - the USS Kidd - is being deployed to the Indian Ocean to continue rescue efforts.The official, who said there were indications that the plane flew four or five hours after dropping off from the radar, added that it would take another 24 hours before the ship reaches its destination.An official also told the AFP that "the Kidd is going to the Straits of Malacca and will be searching in the western section of the strait at the request of the Malaysian government.”

The international hunt initially focused on the South China Sea east of Malaysia, along the plane’s intended route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

But the desperate search has expanded to include waters on both sides of peninsular Malaysia.  

Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had earlier refuted reports that the missing plane flew a few hours after its last reported position.