KUALA LUMPUR - Satellite data that confirmed missing Flight MH370 crashed in the Indian Ocean included a final electronic signal that is still a mystery to investigators, Malaysia's transport minister said on Tuesday.
"There is evidence of a partial handshake between the aircraft and the groundstation at 0019 UTC (GMT). At this time this transmission is not understood and is subject to further ongoing work," Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Sunday (March 25) that groundbreaking satellite-data analysis by the British company Inmarsat had revealed that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean.
It had been heading to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when it vanished early on March 8 with 239 people on board.
Preliminary analysis of the satellite "pings" had only been able to place the plane's final position in one of two vast arcs stretching from the Caspian Sea to the southern Indian Ocean.
Hussein said the data meant the search for MH370 was being significantly narrowed to a remote area in southern Indian Ocean off Australia.
"As a result of this new data analysis, the search and rescue operation in the northern corridor has been called off. We have also stopped the search and rescue operation in the northern part of the southern corridor close to Indonesia," Hussein said.
"All search efforts are now focused in the southern part of the southern corridor in an are covering some 469,407 square nautical miles. And this is as against 2.24 million square nautical miles which was announced on 18th of March," he added.
But on Tuesday an international search effort in a remote area 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth was called of due to bad weather and rough seas.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said that had led him to conclude all the passengers were dead.
"That area is very remote, and we're talking about 17, 18 days. You know, yesterday was 17 day, today is 18 day. For anyone to survive that long is extremely remote," he said.
The area is thousands of miles from its planned flight path in one of the most isolated regions in the world, far from any land or commercial airline routes.