The co-pilot of missing Malaysia Airlines plane made a desperate call from his mobile phone moments before the jet went off the radar.
The call from co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid’s phone ended abruptly, but not before contact was established with a telecommunications sub-station in Penang state, the New Straits Times reports.
The call was made as the jet was flying low near Penang island on Malaysia’s west coast, the morning it went missing.
“The telco’s (telecommunications company’s) tower established the call that he was trying to make. On why the call was cut off, it was likely because the aircraft was fast moving away from the tower and had not come under the coverage of the next one,” the paper said, citing unnamed sources.
It is unknown who he was trying to call as sources would not release more information.
Investigators are still trying to work out what had happened moments before the Boeing 777 went off the radar.
His last communication through WhatsApp was logged at 11.30pm on March 7, just before he boarded the jet for his six-hour flight to Beijing.
The paper said checks on the co-pilot’s phone history showed the last person he spoke to was “one of his regular contacts (a number that frequently appears on his outgoing phone logs)”. This call was made no more than two hours before the flight took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Checks on his phone showed that connection to the phone had been “detached” before the plane took off.
“This is usually the result of the phone being switched off. At one point, however, when the airplane was airborne, between waypoint Igari and the spot near Penang (just before it went missing from radar), the line was ‘reattached’.
“A ‘reattachment’ does not necessarily mean that a call was made. It can also be the result of the phone being switched on again,” the sources said. He and Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah have come under intense scrutiny after the plane mysteriously vanished.
Fariq’s cousin Nursyafiqah Kamarudin, 18, told the New Strait Times on Monday that Fariq, who would have turned 28 on April 1, was very close to his mother.
“If Fariq could make one call before the plane disappeared, it would have been to her.”
Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said authorities have received a lot of reports and leads.
“Unless we can have verifications, we can’t comment on these reports,” he said.
“If this did happen, we would have known about it earlier.”