Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and probe on pilots' hijack
Students gather around a three dimensional artwork, based on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, that was painted on a school ground in Makati city, metro ManilaReuters

New Delhi has denied speculation that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was heading towards India for a 9/11-style attack on one of its key cities.

India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said there have been no indications of an attempt to ram the vanished Boeing 777 into an Indian city.

"I don't think we have gone so far. Security agencies would look at all possibilities," the Indian foreign minister told television network CNN-IBN when asked about the possibility of a 9/11-style attack on India.

However, he said Indian security agencies were looking at all angles in the incident, besides assisting the Malaysian authorities in the ongoing search.

"We will.... just give them the back up that they need in terms of manpower, vessels, equipment. India did provide the largest number of ships and other vessels. We will continue to do so to the best of our abilities, but the operation will be led by them," Khurshid said.

Speculation that the plane could have been hijacked and was heading to an Indian city was put forth by Strobe Talbott, US deputy secretary of state in the Clinton Administration, who tweeted: "Malaysia plane mystery: Direction, fuel load & range now lead some to suspect hijackers planned a 9/11-type attack on an Indian city."

Talbott remains an influential voice in Washington.

Indian authorities expressed scepticism over the speculation and said it was an "educated guess" which lacks any credible backing.

"We are looking into every possibility after various reports emerged that the plane may have flown near the Andaman or may have been hijacked and even flown to Kazakhstan and the Himalayas. But it is very speculative at this stage to conclude that it was hijacked for a 9/11-type attack on an Indian city," a law enforcement official involved in the operation from the Indian side told the Economic Times.

The plane remained elusive as the hunt entered a 10th day. There were 239 people – 227 passengers and 12 crew members -- aboard the plane, five of whom were Indians.

The probe over the mysterious disappearance of the aircraft is gradually snowballing into a criminal investigation focusing on pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Ab Hamid.


Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to Beijing at 00:41 on Saturday 8 March (16:41 GMT Friday).

About 50 minutes later, the aircraft lost contact with air traffic control.

No distress call was made.

On board, there were 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 14 countries. They included 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

Two Iranian male passengers, Pouria Nour Mohammad Mahread and Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza, were travelling on fake passports. Neither had any apparent links to terrorist groups.

No debris from the plane has been found in the international search.

At least 10 countries, including China, the US and Singapore, are using a total of 42 ships and 39 aircraft to search for the missing plane in the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Andaman Sea.