New Lead Widens Search for Missing Malaysia Jet

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The search for a missing Malaysian plane is widening once again as searchers pursue a new lead.

U.S. investigators now believe the missing Malaysia Airlines plane may have flown for five hours after it reached its last confirmed location. That's four more than they first thought.

The Wall Street Journal reports the clue is based on data automatically transmitted from the Boeing 777's engines.

The latest lead raises all kinds of new questions about who and why someone on board may have diverted the plane. And it expands the search area, again. 

If the plane kept running for an extra four hours after last making contact, that's an extra 2,200 nautical miles.

But Malaysia's acting defense minister is refuting reports that the engine data shows an extra four hours of flight.

"I fear that the search and rescue becomes just a search. But we will never give up hope," Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.

Authorities have been searching for six days now with nothing to show. On Thursday pilots checked out an area where Chinese satellite images showed possible debris, but they found nothing.

Malaysian authorities are facing tough questions for their handling of the investigation. At times, they've issued conflicting and confusing statements.

For families of the missing passengers, the wait is excruciating.

"There is no news whatsoever. It's just disappeared off the face of the earth," Irene Burrows, mother of a missing passenger, said. "If we can just find some wreckage or something, that would be a help probably, but not this."

American experts from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have now joined the investigation after being shut out for days.

So far, authorities have not ruled out any possible cause, including mechanical failure, pilot error, sabotage, and terrorism.

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