Malaysia’s government has begun investigating civil aviation and military authorities to determine why opportunities to identify and track Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 were missed in the hours after it vanished, according toReuters. The internal inquiries come as tensions are rapidly escalating between civilian and military authorities over who bears more responsibility for the initial confusion and any mistakes that led to a weeklong search in the wrong ocean. Malaysia’s opposition coalition has demanded a parliamentary inquiry into what happened on the ground in those first few hours. Government officials have said any formal inquiry should not begin until the flight’s orange box recorders are found. The Boeing 777 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew when it disappeared on March 8. Malaysia says it believes the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean after being deliberately diverted from its Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing route.
The Reuters exclusive states that interviews with a senior government source and four other civilian and military officials show that air traffic controllers and military officials assumed the plane had turned back to an airport in Malaysia because of mechanical trouble when it disappeared off civilian radar screens at 1:21 a.m. local time. One senior military official said air traffic control had informed the military at around 2:00 a.m. that a plane was missing. Once alerted, military radar picked up an unidentified plane heading west across peninsular Malaysia, the senior military official said. The air force has said a plane that could have been MH370 was last plotted on military radar at 2:15 a.m., 320 km (200 miles) northwest of the west coast state of Penang.