Speed Reads

This just in

The missing Malaysian Airlines jet was reportedly flying way off course

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Two senior Malaysian authorities are now saying the missing jetliner radically changed from its intended route and was flying at a low altitude when it disappeared from radar screens early Saturday. The revelation explains why searchers were dispatched to the Strait of Malacca, a bordering body of water that the plane doesn't usually fly over on a Beijing-bound route.

According to the South China Morning Post, radar data from the doomed Boeing 777 was last detected over the busy shipping channel at 2:40 am Saturday — nearly 350 miles off track. "It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Strait of Malacca," a military official said.

The search for the missing plane is now entering its fifth day, igniting criticism against the airline and the country for its failure to find any clues to the jet's whereabouts. The news of the plane's erratic flight course also sparked new speculation about hijacking attempts, though Interpol downplayed a terrorism link in connection with two passengers on-board using stolen passports.

The New York Times has more details about the flight's disappearance.