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Missing plane mystery deepens

More than four days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared over Southeast Asia, Malaysian officials not only don’t know what happened to the plane, they don’t seem sure where to look.

The lack of direction prompted Vietnam to say Wednesday that it’s pulling back on its search efforts until Malaysian authorities come up with better information on where to look.

“We have scaled down the searches for today and are still waiting for the response from Malaysian authorities,” Phan Quy Tieu, Vietnam’s vice minister of transportation, told reporters.

He described as “insufficient” the information provided so far on the airline, which vanished early Saturday over Southeast Asia with 239 people on board.

Part of the cause of the veiled irritation on the Vietnamese side seems to concern the deepening mystery over the path the plane may have taken after it lost contact with air traffic control on its scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

A senior Malaysian air force official on Tuesday told CNN that after the plane lost all communications around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, it still showed up on radar for more than an hour longer. Before it vanished altogether, the plane apparently turned away from its intended destination and traveled hundreds of miles off course, the official said.

It was last detected, according to the official, near Pulau Perak, a very small island in the Straits of Malacca, the body of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Those assertions, reported by CNN and other new organizations, have fueled surprise among aviation analysts and a fresh burst of theories about what might have happened to the plane. They also appear to have created tensions between some of the different countries involved in the search efforts.

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