By Keith Laing - 03/14/14 11:14 AM EDT
U.S. officials believe a jetliner that has been missing for a week was last flying over the Indian Ocean, contradicting earlier reports from international authorities, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The new search area is located more than 1,000 miles west of where officials have spent the better part of a week looking for remnants of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which was last detected by air traffic controllers about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing last Friday.
U.S. officials now believe based on information that was communicated by satellite from the airplane’s engines that the jet was redirected from its flight path and continued flying for a long as five hours, according to the report.
Investigators initially believed the Malaysia Airlines flight, which was carrying 239 passengers, had likely crashed into the Gulf of Thailand.
The focus of the search later moved west of Malaysia to the Straits of Malacca when officials came to believe the Malaysia Air flight turned off its air traffic control radars and flew back toward Kuala Lumpur.
The search area has since widened to 2,200 nautical miles, to include parts of the Indian Ocean.
U.S. officials have been hesitant to publicly criticize Malaysia for its handling of the missing plane search, even as they have developed their own theories about the circumstances that led to its disappearance.
“There are a number of possible scenarios that are being investigated as to what happened to the flight, and we are not in a position at this time to make conclusions about what happened, unfortunately," White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday.
The U.S. has sent officials from the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense to assist with the search for the missing plane.
The State Department has confirmed that three of the passengers who were on board the flight were American citizens.