Flight's Final Message Revealed, Official Denies "Off-Course" Report

Flight MH370's final radio message signaled that everything on board was normal. "All right, roger that," the flight's pilot replied to Malaysian air control, just minutes before the plane vanished over the the South China Sea.

The search for the missing plane—now in its fifth day—continues, as reports from Malaysian military on Tuesday gave conflicting information about the flight's last known location. Tuesday afternoon, a Malaysian newspaper quoted the country's air force chief, Gen. Rodzali Daud, as saying the military had data showing that the plane turned west before disappearing, ending up hundreds of miles off-course somewhere over the Strait of Malacca.

Later in the day, though, the air force chief denied parts of the paper's reporting. "I wish to state that I did not make any such statements," Daud said, according to Reuters, though he added that the air force is still investigating and that it "would not be appropriate" to reach conclusions.

Malaysia's civilian aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman acknowledged on Wednesday that he wasn't sure what direction the plane had been traveling in when it vanished.

"There is a possibility of an air turn back. We are still investigating and looking at the radar readings," he said.

Perhaps because of the report, the search area was expanded on Monday to include the Malacca Strait and Andaman Sea, and now covers more than 27,000 square nautical miles.

China has been critical of Malaysia's handling of the incident, with its foreign minster calling the conflicting information "pretty chaotic."

"There's too much information and confusion right now. It is very hard for us to decide whether a given piece of information is accurate," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing. "We will not give it up as long as there's still a shred of hope."

Meanwhile, some of the passenger's family members have told reporters that their missing relative's cell phones still ring when they call. From the Washington Post:

One of the most eerie rumors came after a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online.

A migrant worker in the room said that several other workers from his company were on the plane, including his brother-in-law. Among them, the QQ accounts of three still showed that they were online, he said Sunday afternoon.

Adding to the mystery, other relatives in the room said that when they dialed some passengers' numbers, they seemed to get ringing tones on the other side even though the calls were not picked up.

The phantom calls triggered a new level of desperation and anger for some. They tried repeatedly Sunday and Monday to ask airline and police officials about the ringing calls and QQ accounts. However unlikely it was, many thought the phones might still be on, and that if authorities just tracked them down, their relatives might be found. But they were largely ignored.

Communications experts, however, have said the ringing phones aren't a sign of anything unusual.

"The ringing is not actually ringing at the other phone yet," industry analyst Jeff Kagan told USA Today. "It's just telling you that the network is in the process of finding and connecting to it."

[Image via AP]