Last words from missing plane’s cockpit revealed

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Beachgoers walk past a sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik with a message of prayers for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 at Puri beach in India March 12, 2014
Beachgoers walk past a sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik with a message of prayers for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 at Puri beach in India March 12, 2014

“All right, good night” were the final words heard by air traffic controllers from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight before it vanished over the South China Sea five days ago, relatives of the passengers were told Wednesday.

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News of the last communication came as Malaysia defended its handling of the hunt for the missing Boeing 777 but acknowledged it is still unsure which direction the plane was headed when it disappeared, highlighting the massive task facing the international search.

Government officials said they asked India to join in the search near the Andaman Sea, suggesting they think the jetliner and the 239 people on board might have reached those waters after crossing into the Strait of Malacca, some 250 miles from the flight’s last known coordinates.

The mystery over the plane’s whereabouts has been confounded by confusing and occasionally conflicting statements by Malaysian officials, which have led to allegations of incompetence or even cover-up, adding to the anguish of relatives of those on board the flight, two thirds of them Chinese.

“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,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing. “We will not give it up as long as there’s still a shred of hope.”

CBS News correspondent Bob Orr says the U.S. government has offered wide-ranging assistance, including investigators from the FBI, FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.

On Wednesday, the NTSB said in a statement that its investigators with expertise in air traffic control and radar were providing technical assistance to Malaysian authorities. The investigators traveled to Kuala Lumpur during the weekend.

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Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein described the multinational search as unprecedented. Some 43 ships and 39 aircraft from at least eight nations were scouring an area of 35,800 square miles to the east and west of Peninsular Malaysia.

“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 told a news conference. “But we will never give up. This we owe to the families of those on board.”

Malaysian officials met in Beijing on Wednesday with several hundred Chinese relatives of passengers to explain the search and investigation. They said the last words from the cockpit to Malaysian air traffic controllers before the plane entered Vietnamese airspace were, “All right, good night,” according to a participant in the meeting. Vietnamese officials said they never heard from the plane.

Malaysian officials met in Beijing on Wednesday with several hundred Chinese relatives of passengers to explain the search and investigation. They said the last words from the cockpit to Malaysian air traffic controllers before the plane entered Vietnamese airspace were, “All right, good night,” according to a participant in the meeting. Vietnamese officials said they never heard from the plane.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday and fell off civilian radar screens at 1:30 a.m. about 35,000 feet above the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and southern Vietnam. It sent no distress signals or any indication it was experiencing any problems.

Malaysian authorities said Wednesday that a review of military radar records showed plots of what might have been the plane turning back, crossing over the country and flying to the Strait of Malacca, a busy shipping lane west of the narrow nation.

Air force chief Gen. Rodzali Daud said the radar showed an unidentified object at 2:15 a.m. about 200 miles northwest of Penang.

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

Military and government officials said American experts and the manufacturer of the radar systems were examining that data to confirm whether it showed the Boeing 777. Until then, they said the search would continue on both sides of the country.

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CBS News

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