Malaysia's acting transport minister Hussein Hishammuddin (centre) has said the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight is now covering 27,000 square nautical miles.
  • Nine new reports of noise and light in sky near Malaysia-Thai border
  • Eyewitnesses in villages reported sightings of plane low over the sea
  • Search now focuses on Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea
  • Relatives in Beijing shout and throw bottles at Malaysian Airlines staff
  • They demand: 'Why is Malaysian military keeping what they know secret?'
  • Officials now reveal search is covering 27,000 square nautical miles
Malaysian authorities have defended their handling of the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet as they revealed the search is now covering 27,000 square nautical miles.

Officials have admitted they were unsure which direction the plane was headed when it disappeared as the international search mission carries on in its fifth day.

The mystery over the plane's whereabouts has been confounded by confusing and occasionally conflicting statements by Malaysian officials, adding to the anguish of relatives of the 239 people on board the flight - two thirds of them Chinese.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein described the multinational search for the missing plane as an unprecedented and complicated effort and defended his country's efforts.

He said two areas, in the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, were being searched by a total of 49 ships and 39 planes.
© Daily MailPolice in Malaysia have said they had nine eyewitness reports of aircraft 'noise and lights' being seen in the north-east of the country, near the border with Thailand, after the plane's last recorded sighting on civilian radar systems.

The latest information comes after Chinese relatives of the missing people vented their frustration at Malaysian officials in Beijing, throwing water bottles and shouting: 'Tell us the truth.'

Air force chief Rodzali Daud said air defence radar showed an unidentified object at 2:15am about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northwest of Penang.

'I am not saying it's flight MH370. We are still corroborating this. It was an unidentifiable plot,' he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, meanwhile, told reporters in Beijing: 'There's too much information and confusion right now. It is very hard for us to decide whether a given piece of information is accurate.

'We will not give it up as long as there's still a shred of hope.'

The country's transport minister Mr Hishammuddin meanwhile said the search now involved 12 countries, including India and Japan.

He said: 'It's not something that is easy. We are looking at so many vessels and aircraft, so many countries to coordinate, and a vast area for us to search,' he said. 'But we will never give up. This we owe to the families' of those on board.
Airforce personnel during a search mission for the Malaysian Airlines aircraft on board of a military surveillance airplane over the Malacca Strait.
Members of the Philippines Air Force Search and Rescue Group aboard a C-130 plane conducting an aerial search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight.
Earlier, police in Malaysia disclosed that they had nine eyewitness reports of aircraft 'noise and lights' being seen in the north-east of the country, near the border with Thailand, after the plane's last recorded sighting on civilian radar systems.

The new claims follow two earlier statements by a businessman and a fisherman that they had seen an aircraft's lights low in the sky before they disappeared.

Deputy police commander Dak Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said the eyewitnesses had reported that they saw an aircraft - possibly the missing jet - at about the time all civilian tracking data was lost with flight MH370 in the early hours of last Saturday.
Did The Pilot Commit Suicide?

Authorities are investigating the possibility that the pilot of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 committed suicide, the director of the CIA has revealed.

John Brennan (below), head of the US Central Intelligence Agency, said: 'I think you cannot discount any theory', when asked if it was possible the pilot deliberately crashed the Boeing 777.

The theory could offer an explanation as to how the plane 'disappeared' from civilian radar tracking its movements, as the pilot could have switched off the transponder shortly before it vanished.

© Daily MailZaharie Ahmad Shah (left), a 53-year-old Malaysian, who was one of the pilots.
The CIA chief's intervention came as Malaysian police say they are carrying out psychological profiles of everyone on board the plane, which vanished on Saturday carrying 239 people after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.

He told reporters there were a host of unanswered questions, including why the plane's transponder stopped emitting signals and what was the role of passengers carrying stolen passports.

'There are a number of very curious anomalies about all of this,' he said.

'You know, did it turn around? You know, were the individuals with these stolen passports in any way involved?'

He added: 'What about the transponder? Why did it sort of, you know, just disappear from the radar?

'We are looking at it very carefully. Clearly this is still a mystery.'
The reports, from several towns and villages in the north east, said the aircraft was seen low over the sea.

The towns included Kuala Besar, Pentai Cahaya Bulan, Pentai Senok and Penarik, all of which are on the coast of the South China Sea, which is south and west of where the plane was last seen.

'Based on the reports, the plane was sighted between 1.30am and 1.45am,' said commander Jalaluddin.

'A bus driver, who gave his voluntary statement on Sunday, said he saw a low-flying plane at Penarik at about 1.45am the same day flight MH370 went missing.

'The driver was sure that he saw the aircraft's blinking beacon lights.'

From the Marang area, said the commander, eight villagers lodged police reports claiming they had heard a loud noise on Saturday night coming from the direction of Pulau Kapas.

One of the villagers, Alias Salleh, 36, told The Star newspaper that he and some friends were on a bench about 400m from the Marang beach at 1.20am when they heard a loud and frightening noise which sounded like the fan of a jet engine.

'The loud and frightening noise came from the north east of Pulau Kapas,' said Mr Alias.

'We looked around the Rhu Muda beach but did not see anything unusual.'

If the sightings are correct it would put the plane on course for the north of the Strait of Malacca, assuming it maintained a steady route.That is where the main search and rescue operation is now concentrating on, according to Gen Daud.Gen Daud said that the search now included waters around Penang Island, at the north of the Malacca Strait.

Indonesian passenger Firman Siregar.
The plane turning back 'had not been ruled out', he said.

He denied he had said that there had been a definite sighting of it on military radar, but did not deny that there was a sighting - only that he had said it himself.

Meanwhile the country's civilian aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said today: 'There is a possibility of an air turn back. We are still investigating and looking at the radar readings.'

On a day of confusion, Vietnam briefly scaled back the search off the southern coast, saying it was receiving scanty and confusing information from Malaysia.

Hanoi later said the hunt - now in its fifth day - was back on in full force and was even extending on to land.

The confusion over where to look is adding to one of the most baffling mysteries in modern aviation mystery, and prolonging the agonising wait for hundreds of relatives of the missing.

In Beijing, there was fury from families of the 239 people on board, who are desperate for any news. Relatives hurled water bottles at airline officials and accused them of lying.

At least three people threw water bottles at a meeting held between Malaysian airline and embassy officials and relatives of some of the 153 Chinese passengers who were on board.

At the meeting in Beijing, people shouted 'tell us the truth' and asked exactly what the Malaysian military knew about the missing plane.

When officials refused to discuss exactly what was known, bottles were thrown and some relatives lunged towards the Malaysians.
Iranian Lawmaker Claims U.S. 'Kidnapped' Flight MH370

An Iranian parliamentarian has blamed the disappearance of flight MH370 on the United States, claiming it 'kidnapped' the flight in an attempt to 'sabotage' relationships between Iran and China and South East Asia.

Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, the spokesman for the foreign policy committee, has claimed reports of two Iranian nationals travelling on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight on stolen passports was 'psychological warfare', The New York Times has reported.

He said: 'Americans recruit some people for such kinds of operations so they can throw the blame on other countries, especially Muslim countries.'

Interpol confirmed yesterday that Iranian nationals Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 19, and Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, 29, travelled to Malaysia on their Iranian passports before switching to the stolen Austrian and Italian documents.

He said the recent information about the men made terrorism a less likely cause of the plane's disappearance. He said: 'The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident.'
The massive search operation involving ships and aircraft from 10 countries is spread out over the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, which lie between Malaysia and Vietnam, and in the Strait of Malacca into the Andaman Sea.

China's civil aviation chief said its air force would add two planes to the search effort, which would be broadened to include land areas. He did not elaborate.

The Indian Express said India, which controls the Andaman and Nicobar island chains and has a strong naval presence in the Andaman Sea, had been asked to help, but a defence ministry source said there had been no formal request from Malaysia.

'They have to tell us the area where our people have to go, only then they move to that area,' the source said. 'It has to be clear, the clarity is not there at the moment.'

Experts meanwhile have said search teams are running out of time before the battery on the plane's underwater locator beacon runs out.

Alan Lau Kin-tak of Hong Kong Polytechnic University's mechanical engineering department, has told the South China Morning Post: 'The battery life of the locator lasts 30 days. If they cannot find it within this window, it will become very hard to locate.'

No signal was picked up either from the emergency locator transmitter, which ejects from a plane if it crashes and lasts for 24 hours.

A senior military officer who had been briefed on the investigation told Reuters on Tuesday that the aircraft had made a detour to the west after communications with civilian authorities ended.

In the absence of any concrete evidence to explain the plane's disappearance, authorities have not ruled out anything. Police have said they were investigating whether any passengers or crew on the plane had personal or psychological problems that might shed light on the mystery, along with the possibility of a hijacking, sabotage or mechanical failure.
Disbelief: A tourist from Vietnam ties a message expressing hope for family onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight in Kuala Lumpur.
The airline said it was taking seriously a report by a South African woman who said the co-pilot of the missing plane had invited her and a female travelling companion to sit in the cockpit during a flight two years ago, in an apparent breach of security.

'Malaysia Airlines has become aware of the allegations being made against First Officer Fariq Ab Hamid which we take very seriously. We are shocked by these allegations. We have not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures and videos of the alleged incident,' the airline said in a statement.

The woman, Jonti Roos, said in an interview with Australia's Channel Nine TV that she and her friend were invited to fly in the cockpit by Fariq and the pilot between Phuket, Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur in December 2011. The TV channel showed pictures of the four apparently in a plane's cockpit.

The Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records of any commercial aircraft in service. Its only previous fatal crash came on July 6 last year when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 struck a seawall on landing in San Francisco, killing three people.

U.S. planemaker Boeing has declined to comment beyond a brief statement saying it was monitoring the situation.