Malaysia's rejected claims that phone calls were made from missing flight MH370 before it vanished, but refused to rule out any possibility in a so far fruitless investigation over the cause of the jet's disappearance.
The New Straits Times, quoting an anonymous source, reported yesterday that co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid made a call which ended abruptly.
There have also been unconfirmed reports of calls by the Malaysia Airlines plane's captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah before or during the flight.
Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says authorities have no knowledge of any calls made from the jet's cockpit.
The newspaper quoted sources as saying the telecommunications tower “established: the call 27 year-old Mr Fariq was trying to make."
But the report said the sources declined to reveal who he was trying to call.
According to the sources, the call was likely to have been cut off because the aircraft was moving fast away from the tower and had not come under coverage of the next one.
The report cited other sources close to the investigation into the plane’s disappearance as saying that checks on Mr Fariq’s phone had shown it had been “detached” before the plane with 239 people on board left Kuala Lumpur airport at 12.41am on March 8.
He had sent a WhatsApp message application at 11.30pm to a regular number..
These sources were quoted as saying the phone was “reattached” near Penang before the plane disappeared from a military radar 320 kilometres north-west of Penang.
The newspaper described the discovery of the call as a breakthrough into the criminal investigation into the plane’s disappearance with 239 people on board.
Police have said the plane’s crew members are among the main “subjects of the investigation” but have refused to make public any details.
Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein cast doubt on the New Straits Times’ report.
“I can’t comment (on the newspaper report) because if it is true, we would have known about it much earlier,” Mr Hishammuddin told Bernama, the state news agency.
Mr Hishammuddin said he had adopted the approach not to confirm anything about the plane’s disappearance until the information had been corroborated and verified.