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‘Missing jet unlikely to have been shot down’


Beijing, March 21:

The missing Malaysian airliner is unlikely to have been shot down, a Malaysian military official said in Beijing Friday.

Lt. Gen. Ackbal bin Haji Abdul Samad, air operations commander of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, made the remarks at a briefing of relatives of Chinese passengers on board the missing flight.

Asked if it was possible that the plane has been shot down by air forces, Samad said it was “highly not possible” , adding that while military radar had captured signs of the jet they did not take any steps as they believed the aircraft to be a “friendly”.

A Malaysian team arrived in Beijing late Thursday to deal with issues related to the missing plane and met relatives Friday.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur March 8.

The Boeing 777-200ER was initially presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea.

The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6.30 a.m. the same day. The 227 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

Contact with the plane was lost along with its radar signal at 1.40 a.m. when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City.