Air traffic controllers failed to notice for 17 minutes that the ill-fated Malaysian jet had gone off the radar and did not activate a rescue operation for nearly four hours, according to a preliminary report on the mysterious disappearance of MH370 released on Thursday.
The two details were outlined in the much-anticipated report by Malaysia’s Transportation Ministry released to the public nearly two months after the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 disappeared.
“Over a month after the aircraft departed the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, its location is still unknown,” said the report dated April 9.
At 1:21 a.m. (local time) on March 8, the Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 239 people, including five Indians, disappeared from radar en route to Beijing.
It was not until 17 minutes later at 01:38 a.m. that air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, asked its Malaysian counterpart where the plane was.
Then came a nearly four-hour gap — from the time when officials noticed the plane was missing to when the official rescue operation was launched.
The Kuala Lumpur Rescue Coordination Centre was activated at 05:30 (local time) after all efforts to communicate and locate the aircraft failed.