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MND considering whether to continue MH370 search

TAIPEI--The Ministry of National Defense said Saturday that it will learn more about the latest developments in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 before deciding what “follow-up work” it should do in the search for the missing plane.

Spokesman Luo Shou-he said that the defense ministry, which has contributed a transport plane and Navy vessels to the search, will wait to understand what Malaysia intends to do after the country announced it would stop searching an area of the South China Sea for the Boeing 777 in favor of considering new possibilities.

The Taiwanese C-130 transport plane has been combing the area daily since March 10 to help find the plane, which disappeared two days earlier on March 8 with one Taiwanese citizen aboard. A Chengkung-class Navy frigate, a Lafayette-class vessel and two Coast Guard Administration (CGA) vessels also joined the search out of the spirit of humanitarian rescue.

Taiwan's part in the search began when the missing flight was still suspected to have crashed in the ocean, but authorities now believe its disappearance and apparent divergence from its planned route were intentional decisions.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a news conference Saturday afternoon that investigators believe someone aboard the flight deliberately shut down communications and tracking systems, changed the flight course and continued to fly for nearly seven hours after disappearance.

The plane could have headed northward from northern Thailand toward Kazakhstan or southward from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean, the prime minister said, greatly widening the radius from where search operations have been conducted.

Malaysia itself has called off the search in the South China Sea in light of new evidence to search other areas and investigate the flight's passengers and crew.

MH370 disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft, which was carrying 227 passengers, including Taiwanese national Chuang Hsiu-ling, and a 12-member crew.

No debris from the plane has been discovered so far, leaving investigators perplexed and with few clues as to what might have happened.

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