The Andaman Islands, an archipelago between India and Burma in the Bay of Bengal, may have been the intended destination of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
, senior Malaysian officials told Reuters Friday
Two unidentified sources told the wire service that the missing Boeing 777 appeared to be following an established route commonly used by pilots to travel to the Andaman Island after the plane veered off course and disappeared from radar detectors over the weekend.
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The new information strengthens the theory that the flight was deliberately diverted off course, which lends credence to the possibility that terrorism played a role in the flight's disappearance.
Additionally, it has been found that the plane's transponder — a radio transmitter in the cockpit that emits an identifying signal providing the aircraft's location — was either turned off or disabled prior to the aircraft disappearing from radar screens. What's more, no distress signal was sent from the missing 777, which experts say suggests a sudden catastrophic failure or explosion.
On Tuesday, CIA Chief John Brennan told the Council on Foreign Relations that terrorism could not be ruled out.
When asked about the possibility of terrorism, the unidentified senior Malaysian police official told Reuters, "What we can say is we are looking at sabotage, with hijack still on the cards."
As a result of the new evidence, the sources said, multinational search efforts were being stepped up in the Andaman Sea and also the Indian Ocean, Reuters reported.
The missing Boeing 777 airliner had 239 people aboard — 227 passengers and 12 crew members — when it mysteriously disappeared on Saturday.
Of the 227 passengers, three were Americans
, with two reportedly being children. Among the other nationalities in the flight when it went missing were 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, and four French. The remainder of the passengers on the flight were reportedly Chinese nationals.
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The USS Kidd was dispatched to the Indian Ocean late this week
joining its sister ship the USS Pinckney to assist in the ongoing massive search effort, which as of Thursday reportedly included 62 destroyers from at least 10 different nations.
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