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The last words from the cockpit of the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 plane were a standard "Good night Malaysian three seven zero", Malaysian authorities said, changing their account of the critical last communication from a more casual "All right, good night."
The correction almost four weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished was made as Malaysian authorities face heavy criticism, particularly from China, for mismanaging the search and holding back information.
Painstaking analysis of radar data and limited satellite information has focused the search on a vast, inhospitable swathe of the southern Indian Ocean west of the Australian city of Perth, but has so far failed to spot any sign of it.
"Good night Malaysian three seven zero" would be a more formal, standard sign-off from the cockpit of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which was just leaving Malaysia-controlled air space on its route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Malaysia says the plane was likely diverted deliberately, probably by a skilled aviator, leading to speculation of involvement by one or more of the pilots. Investigators, however, have determined no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers or the 12 crew.
A Chinese relative of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is comforted by abbess Jue Cheng after prayers for their loved ones at Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple.(Reuters)
"We would like to confirm that the last conversation in the transcript between the air traffic controller and the cockpit is at 0119 (Malaysian Time) and is "Good night Malaysian three seven zero," the Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement late on Monday.
Minutes later its communications were cut off and it turned back across Malaysia and headed toward the Indian Ocean.
Malaysia's ambassador to China told Chinese families in Beijing as early as March 12, four days after the flight went missing, that the last words had been "All right, good night".
The statement said authorities were still conducting "forensic investigation" to determine whether the last words from the cockpit were by the pilot or the co-pilot. Previously, Malaysia Airlines has said that the words were believed to have come from the co-pilot.
Chinese relatives of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 say prayers at a Buddhist temple in Petaling Jaya,