China finds no terror link to its nationals on jet

2014-03-18 13:20
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kuala Lumpur - Checks into the background of the Chinese citizens on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner have uncovered no links to terrorism, the Chinese ambassador in Kuala Lumpur said on Tuesday.

The remarks will dampen speculation that Uighur Muslim separatists in far western Xinjiang province might have been involved with the disappearance of the Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers and crew early on 8 March.

The plane was carrying 154 Chinese passengers, when Malaysian officials say someone on board deliberately diverted it from its route to Beijing less than one hour into the flight. A massive search operation in the Indian Ocean and beyond has yet to find any trace of the plane.

Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said background checks on Chinese nationals didn't uncover any evidence suggesting they were involved in hijacking or an act of terrorism against the plane, according to the state Xinhua News Agency.

Uighur groups have been involved in attacks inside China, and some have a presence in the Afghan-Pakistan border area, where al-Qaeda and other transnational jihadi groups are based.

Malaysian police are investigating the pilots and ground engineers of the plane, and have asked intelligence agencies from countries with passengers on board to carry out background checks on those passengers.

Malaysian authorities say that someone on board the flight switched off two vital pieces of communication equipment, allowing the plane to fly almost undetected. Satellite data shows it might have ended up somewhere in a giant arc stretching from Central Asia to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Possibility of hijacking

Huang said China had begun searching for the plane on its territory, but gave no details. When asked at a Foreign Ministry briefing Tuesday in Beijing what this search involved, ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said only that satellites and radar were being used.

A Chinese civilian aviation official previously has said that there was no sign of the plane entering the country's airspace on commercial radar. The government has not said whether this has been confirmed by military radar data.

Malaysian police say they are investigating the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board, but have yet to give any update on what they have uncovered.

Malaysian military radar spotted the plane in the northern reaches of the Strait of Malacca at 02:14 on 8 March, just over 1 ½ hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur. That is the plane's last known confirmed position. A signal to a satellite from the plane at 08:11 suggests that, by then, it was somewhere in a broad arc spanning from Kazakhstan to the Indian Ocean west of Australia.

Investigators are scouring over what little data they have to try and determine who was in control of the plane when it stopped communicating. They have indicated that whoever was in control must have had aviation experience and knowledge of commercial flight paths.

On Monday, Malaysian Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said an initial investigation indicated that the last words ground controllers heard from the plane — "All right, good night" — were spoken by the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid.

On Sunday, the defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein said this were spoken before the jetliner's data communications systems — the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System — had been switched off, suggesting the voice from the cockpit was knowingly deceiving ground controllers.

But Ahmad made a potentially significant change to that timeline.

Aviation industry

Speaking alongside Hishammuddin, he said that while the final data transmission from ACARS, which gives plane performance and maintenance information, came before the co-pilot's words, it was still unclear at what point the system was switched off.

The search for the plane is one of the largest in aviation history, and now involves 26 countries.

It was initially focused on seas on either side of Peninsular Malaysia, in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. It has since expanded to include the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal and 11 countries to the northwest that the plane in theory could have crossed, including China and India.

American, Australian and Indonesian planes and ships are searching waters to the south of Indonesia's Sumatra Island all the way down to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

China was also sending ships to the Indian Ocean, where they will search two blocks of sea covering a total of 300 000 square kilometres, or three times the area they had searched in the South China Sea.

The area being covered by the Australians is even bigger — 600 000 square kilometres — and will take weeks to search thoroughly, said John Young, manager of Australian Maritime Safety Authority's emergency response division.

"This search will be difficult. The sheer size of the search area poses a huge challenge," Young said. "A needle in a haystack remains a good analogy."
- AP
Read more on:    china  |  malaysia  |  malaysia airlines flight mh370  |  aviation  |  plane crashes  |  air travel
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Beauty

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The virtual world can be very tempting to escape into but focus on also being present and keeping your feet anchored in reality....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.