Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (BBN) – Malaysia on Thursday made public a preliminary report on flight MH370 that marks its most extensive release of information on the missing airliner to date, nearly two months after its mysterious disappearance.
The brief five-page document emailed to media organisations was submitted to international aviation authorities within a month of the flight's March 8 disappearance but its public release was delayed more than three weeks by Malaysia's government, the Channel NewsAsia reported.
The report revealed a four-hour gap before the search for the plane began.
It gave no explanation for what happened during those four hours, other than to say that Kuala Lumpur contacted Singapore, Hong Kong and Cambodia.
The report was accompanied by audio recordings of verbal exchanges between the cockpit of the Malaysia Airlines jet and air traffic controllers, and documents pertaining to the cargo manifest.
"(Prime Minister Najib Razak) set, as a guiding principle, the rule that as long as the release of a particular piece of information does not hamper the investigation or the search operation, in the interests of openness and transparency, the information should be made public," an accompanying government statement said.
Malaysia is continuing to investigate what happened to the plane, saying this week it also had appointed a former head of the country's civil aviation to head up a probe that will include members of the US National Transportation Safety Board and other foreign aviation agencies.
Thursday's release did not contain any information from a separate Malaysian police investigation into whether a criminal act such as terrorism was to blame.
Malaysia's government, which was heavily criticised for a seemingly chaotic initial response and comments to the media on MH370, has been tight-lipped about the progress of its investigations into the tragedy.
Some relatives of passengers have angrily accused the government and airline of incompetence and withholding information, which Malaysia denies.
The Malaysia Airlines flight vanished on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard.
It is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, but a massive hunt for the wreckage has been fruitless so far.
Also on Thursday, Malaysia Airlines said it will cease to provide hotel accommodation for relatives of missing flight MH370 passengers by May 7.
"Instead of staying in hotels, the families of MH370 are advised to receive information updates on the progress of the search and investigation and other support by Malaysia Airlines within the comfort of their own homes, with the support and care of their families and friends," the airline said in a statement.
"In line with this adjustment, Malaysia Airlines will be closing all of its family assistance centres around the world by 7 May 2014."
BBN/SSR/AD-01May14-8:16 pm (BST)