Search Expands For Lost 777 (Updated)

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A Malaysia Airlines 777, via Wikimedia

A Malaysia Airlines 777, via Wikimedia

The 777 that has been missing since Saturday may have changed course after communications were lost and flown for hundreds of miles to the west, across Malaysia and over the Strait of Mallacca, according to a Malaysian official who said "signals" had been detected, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The Times said those reports were later contradicted by other officials, and it remains unclear if there was any deliberate diversion from the aircraft's expected flight path.

Also on Tuesday, officials from Interpol said their investigation found no terrorist ties for the individuals using stolen passports, who apparently were attempting to travel illegally for personal and economic reasons.

image: BBC

image: BBC

Monday morning, officials said the oil slicks that were spotted Sunday near the flight route of the Malaysia Airlines 777 that went missing over the weekend are not from that airplane. Samples of the oil were collected and analyzed and were not jet fuel. Officials said they are expanding the search area for the missing airplane, but will still focus on the Gulf of Thailand, between Malaysia and Vietnam. About three dozen aircraft and 40 ships have been participating in the search. Several bits of debris that were spotted afloat also were retrieved and none have been related to the lost aircraft. Chinese officials said they have adjusted the operations of some orbiting satellites to provide better coverage of area surrounding the last known location of the jet.

China also has sent a team of 10 officials to Malaysia to assist in the investigation and provide support to the families of those lost. The NTSB sent a team of investigators to Asia, including technical advisers from Boeing and the FAA, to be ready to assist as needed. The 777 went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing about 1:30 a.m. Saturday local time, about an hour after departure, with 229 passengers and 12 crew on board. No weather problems were reported in the area. On Monday, the BBC published a detailed summary of the ongoing search operation, based on a media briefing by local officials.  

A company called DigitalGlobe is working to host satellite images online in an effort to organize volunteers to help search for clues. As of Tuesday night, the effort was not yet functional.