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Airline officials have said the plane had enough fuel to fly for up to about eight hours.
"The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact," Najib said.
He said authorities had determined that the plane’s last communication with a satellite was in one of two possible arcs, or "corridors" — a northern one from northern Thailand through to the border of the Central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and a southern one from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
The northern route might theoretically have taken the plane through China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan — which hosts U.S. military bases — and Central Asia, but it was unclear how it could fly through the region undetected. The region is also home to extremist Islamist groups, unstable governments and remote, sparsely populated areas.
Flying south would have put the plane over the Indian Ocean, with an average depth of 3,890 meters (12,762 feet) and thousands of kilometers (miles) from the nearest land mass.
Britain-based aviation security consultant Chris Yates thought it was highly unlikely the plane would have taken the northern route across land in Asia. "In theory, any country that sees a strange blip is going to get fighter planes up to have a look," he said. "And if those fighter planes can’t make head or tail of what it is, they will shoot it down."
At least 14 countries are involved in the search for the plane, using 43 ships and 58 aircraft.
Associated Press writers Chris Brummitt and Jim Gomez contributed to this report from Kuala Lumpur. AP writer Didi Tang, video producer Aritz Parra and news assistant Henry Hou contributed from Beijing. AP writer Joan Lowy contributed from Washington.
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