Fariq Abdul Hamid.
Investigators probing the disappearance of Malaysia
Airlines Flight MH370 suspect that the co-pilot of the jetliner
tried to make a call with his cellphone after the plane was
diverted from its scheduled route, Malaysia's New Straits Times
reports sources as saying.
The newspaper cited unidentified investigative sources as
saying the attempted call from co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid's
phone was picked up by a cellphone tower as the plane was
about 200 nautical miles northwest of the west coast state of
Penang. That was around where military radar made its last
sighting of the missing jet at 2:15 a.m. local time on March
"The telco's (telecommunications company's) tower established
the call that he was trying to make. On why the call was cut
off, it was likely because the aircraft was fast moving away
from the tower and had not come under the coverage of the
next one," the New Straits Times cited a source as saying.
Government officials could not immediately be reached for
comment on the report. The New Straits Times quoted acting
Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein as saying that the
report needed to be verified.
But he appeared to cast doubt on the report by saying: "If
this did happen, we would have known about it earlier."
The New Straits Times cited separate investigative sources as
saying that a signal had been picked up from Fariq's
cellphone, but that it could have resulted from the device
being switched on rather than being used to make a call.
Malaysia is focusing its criminal investigation on the cabin
crew and the pilots of the plane -- 53-year-old captain
Zaharie Ahmad Shah and 27-year old Fariq -- after clearing
all 227 passengers of any involvement, police have said.
Investigators believe that someone with detailed knowledge of
both the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial aviation navigation
switched off the plane's communications systems before
diverting it thousands of miles off its scheduled course.
The search for the missing jetliner in the southern Indian
ocean resumed on Saturday, amid fears that batteries powering
signals from the black box recorder on board may have died.