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MH370: seven satellite pings reveal fate

British satellite company Inmarsat analyses seven, hourly pings sent by the missing Malaysian Airlines flight to determine its final resting place.

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Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was deliberately crashed into the ocean in ‘‘an apparent suicide mission’’, according to a report in Britain’s The Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper report, which appears on the front page of Tuesday's edition, was based on what it claimed were ‘‘well-placed sources’’. But they contrast with official statements from Malaysian authorities, who say that the focus of the investigation is moving away from the pilots.

How The Daily Telegraph in London reported the story in its newspaper.

How The Daily Telegraph in London reported the story in its newspaper.

Sources close to the investigation in Kuala Lumpur have told Fairfax Media that while pilot suicide had not been ruled out, the focus has now veered away from a hijacking or terrorist attack to the possibility of a mechanical failure, explosion or fire on board.

But The Telegraph report said sources had revealed that the team investigating the plane’s disappearance believed that no malfunction or fire was capable of causing the Boeing 777’s unusual flight path after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, or the disabling of its communications systems.

It does not speculate as to who might have been responsible for causing the crash, and whether there were links to terrorism or mental illness, but rather states that it must have been a deliberate - and therefore suicidal - act.

The Telegraph report was written by Australian journalist Jonathan Pearlman, a former reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

While claiming the story was verified by multiple sources, The Daily Telegraph quoted just one unnamed official source as saying that investigators believed "this has been a deliberate act by someone on board who had to have had the detailed knowledge to do what was done ... Nothing is emerging that points to motive."

Asked about the possibility of a plane malfunction or an on-board fire, the source told the newspaper: "It just does not hinge together..... [The investigators] have gone through processes you do to get the plane where it flew to for eight hours. They point to it being flown in a rational way."

But background checks on the pilots, crew and passengers have failed to reveal any links to extremist organisations.

Malaysia’s acting transport Hishammuddin Hussein said investigators had not discounted involvement of the pilots “but when the facts do not relate to any ransom note, or any groups claiming responsibility, it leads to further speculation.”

Asked last week whether the pilots might have lost consciousness because of smoke from a fire or cabin depressurisation, Mr Hishammuddin said: “That hasn’t been ruled out. The urgency to find the black box will give us more information on that line of investigation.”

Malaysian officials have released only scant information about what investigators have verified about the flight.

At daily press briefings officials have spent most of the time refuting misinformation and speculation, much of it from the media hungry for news on the mystery that has gripped the world.

Authorities are considering the release of transcript of conversations between the pilots and air traffic control before the plane inexplicably turned around over the South China Sea and was still flying more than seven hours later.

But they have said it provides no clues to what happened.

Captain Zaharie and First officer Fariq came under intense scrutiny after Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak referred more than a week ago to credible evidence pointing to the “deliberate action” of someone on the plane.

But one strengthening possibility is that they acted quickly to turn the plane around and abruptly dropped its altitude to try to save the passengers and crew after a catastrophic event on board.

Under this scenario the pilots became unconscious when the cabin depressurised and plane flew un-piloted for hours into the far southern Indian Ocean.

The US has sent at least 10 investigators, including four FBI agents, to Kuala Lumpur to assist the investigation that includes officials from the National Transport Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and the plane’s manufacturer, Boeing.

The worst fears of families were confirmed last night when Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the plane crashed into a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board.

“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” Mr Najib told a media briefing.

"It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.’’

Confirmation the Boeing 777, one of the world’s most sophisticated airliners, crashed into the sea came from Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch which had been provided information from the London-based satellite company Inmarsat.

According to the analysis the plane flew for more than seven hours after it had turned back from its scheduled flight path over the South China Sea.

Officials said it was likely the plane ran out of fuel before crashing.

With Lindsay Murdoch