Malaysian Airlines plan (illustration)
Malaysian Airlines plan (illustration)Reuters

The missing Malaysia Airlines plane may have kept flying for four hours after it disappeared, United States investigators have said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the plane’s engines had continued transmitting data to the ground for hours after its last confirmed report. The paper cited anonymous investigators “familiar with the details.”

If the report were true, it would mean the search for wreckage from the missing plane has likely been focused on the wrong region.

Malaysia’s acting Transportation Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, has denied the report.

The Boeing 777-200 plane went missing six days ago while on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace of the missing aircraft has been found.

Terrorism has not been ruled out as a possibility, and reports that the plane turned around shortly before disappearing have raised suspicions that it may have been hijacked. Investigators also found that there were Iranian nationals aboard the flight traveling on stolen European passports; however, Malaysian police say the men are not believed to be members of any terrorist group.

The mysterious disappearance of the airplane and its 239 passengers deepened earlier this week with reports that families of the missing travelers were still hearing ring tones when calling their missing loved ones.