Thai radar might have tracked missing plane

Comment: Off

Visitors are silhouetted against a slideshow of best wishes for the missing Malaysia Airline, MH370, during an event at a shopping mall, in Petaling Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. A coalition of 26 countries, including Thailand, are looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Search crews are scouring two giant arcs of territory amounting to the size of Australia — half of it in the remote seas of the southern Indian Ocean. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

Visitors are silhouetted against a slideshow of best wishes for the missing Malaysia Airline, MH370, during an event at a shopping mall, in Petaling Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. A coalition of 26 countries, including Thailand, are looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Search crews are scouring two giant arcs of territory amounting to the size of Australia — half of it in the remote seas of the southern Indian Ocean. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

A young Malaysian boy prays, at an event for the missing Malaysia Airline, MH370, at a shopping mall, in Petaling Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. A coalition of 26 countries, including Thailand, are looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Search crews are scouring two giant arcs of territory amounting to the size of Australia — half of it in the remote seas of the southern Indian Ocean. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

A relative of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 waits for a news briefing by the Airlines’ officials at a hotel ballroom in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Families of the passengers aboard the missing plane decided to organize a hunger strike to express their anger and disappointment at the handling of the situation by authorities. They decided on the action after a daily morning meeting with two officials from Malaysia Airlines. The plane has been missing since March 8, and contradictory information plus the fact there has been no sign of the plane has left family members frustrated. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Passengers walk to check in at Malaysia Airlines counters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Checks into the background of all the Chinese nationals on board the missing Malaysian jetliner have uncovered no links to terrorism, the Chinese ambassador in Kuala Lumpur said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, second from right, speaks as Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, right, Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, second left, and Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahyain listen during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Checks into the background of all the Chinese nationals on board the missing Malaysian jetliner have uncovered no links to terrorism, the Chinese ambassador in Kuala Lumpur said Tuesday. T (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Ten days after a Malaysian jetliner disappeared, Thailand’s military said Tuesday it saw radar blips that might have been from the missing plane but didn’t report it “because we did not pay attention to it.”

Search crews from 26 countries, including Thailand, are looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished early March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Frustration is growing among relatives of those on the plane at the lack of progress in the search.

Aircraft and ships are scouring two giant arcs of territory amounting to the size of Australia — half of it in the remote seas of the southern Indian Ocean.

Cmdr. William Marks, a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, said finding the plane was like trying to locate a few people somewhere between New York and California.

Early in the search, Malaysian officials said they suspected the plane backtracked toward the Strait of Malacca, just west of Malaysia. But it took a week for them to confirm Malaysian military radar data suggesting that route.

Thai military officials said Tuesday their own radar showed an unidentified plane, possibly Flight 370, flying toward the strait beginning minutes after the Malaysian jet’s transponder signal was lost.

Air force spokesman Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn said the Thai military doesn’t know whether the plane it detected was Flight 370.

Thailand’s failure to quickly share possible information about the plane may not substantially change what Malaysian officials now know, but it raises questions about the degree to which some countries are sharing their defense data.

Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:40 a.m. March 8 and its transponder, which allows air traffic controllers to identify and track it, ceased communicating at 1:20 a.m.

Montol said that at 1:28 a.m., Thai military radar “was able to detect a signal, which was not a normal signal, of a plane flying in the direction opposite from the MH370 plane,” back toward Kuala Lumpur. The plane later turned right, toward Butterworth, a Malaysian city along the Strait of Malacca. The radar signal was infrequent and did not include data such as the flight number.

When asked why it took so long to release the information, Montol said, “Because we did not pay any attention to it. The Royal Thai Air Force only looks after any threats against our country.” He said the plane never entered Thai airspace and that Malaysia’s initial request for information in the early days of the search was not specific.

“When they asked again and there was new information and assumptions from (Malaysian) Prime Minister Najib Razak, we took a look at our

Comments

comments

About the Author