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‘Data wiped’ from Malaysia pilot’s flight simulator

Malaysian police had removed the simulator from Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah's home last Saturday

Published: Updated:

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Wednesday investigators are working to recover what is thought to be data deleted from the flight simulator used by the pilot of missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

“Some data had been deleted from the simulator and forensic work to retrieve this data is ongoing,” Hishammuddin said, in statements carried by Agence France-Presse.

Malaysian police had removed the simulator from Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah's home last Saturday after it became clear that the aircraft had likely been deliberately diverted by someone on board.

He stressed that no evidence had been found implicating Zaharie in any wrongdoing.

The minister also announced that Malaysia had received the results of passenger background checks from all countries with citizens on board -- apart from Ukraine and Russia.

He said the checks have produced no “information of significance” so far.

“We have received passengers' background checks from all countries apart from Ukraine and Russia,” Hishammuddin told reporters.

“So far no information of significance on any passengers has been found.” he said.

The Malaysian government believes the jet was deliberately diverted and flew for several hours after leaving its scheduled flight path -- either north towards Central Asia, or towards the southern Indian Ocean.

Thai radar detects ‘unknown jet’

Earlier in the day, a Thai air force announced that a radar of its own picked up an “unknown aircraft” minutes after flight MH370 last transmitted its location.

Air Marshal Monthon Suchookorn told AFP Thai officials failed to report the findings earlier as the plane was not considered a threat.

He said the information emerged during checks of radar logs on Monday -- nine days after the Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared—following a request from the Malaysian government.

An “unknown aircraft was detected at 00:28 (local time, 1:28 am Malaysian time), six minutes after MH370 vanished” in the South China Sea, moving southwest towards Kuala Lumpur and the Strait of Malacca, he told AFP.

That timing corresponds with the last transmission from the Boeing 777's transponder at 1:21 am Malaysian time, which relayed information about the plane's altitude and location.

The timing of the plane being spotted travelling in the opposite direction from MH370's intended flight path to Beijing also comes after the final voice communication from the jet, a seemingly relaxed “All right, good night” at 1:19 am.

“It's not confirmed that the aircraft is MH370,” he said, adding he was unable to give “exact times” of the later sightings.

The plane slipped off Malaysian civilian radar screens at 1:30 am but continued to blip on its military radars until 2:15 am before disappearing entirely.

Initially the massive search for the vanished jet focused on the Gulf of Thailand and adjacent South China Sea, with several nations sending boats, helicopters and jets to scour the waters.

The investigation into the fate of the Boeing 777 has focused on findings it was likely deliberately diverted from its flight path to Beijing, probably by someone in the cockpit with advanced aviation skills.

Twenty-six countries are now involved in the hunt which covers a vast arc of land and sea, in a northern corridor over south and central Asia, and a southern corridor stretching deep into the southern Indian Ocean towards Australia.


(with AFP)