Saturday, Nov 01, 2014

Hunt on for Malaysia Airlines: Stolen passports, missing debris fuel fears of foul play

Italian Luigi Maraldi, left, whose stolen passport was used by a passenger onboard the missing Malaysian airliner. (AP) Italian Luigi Maraldi, left, whose stolen passport was used by a passenger onboard the missing Malaysian airliner. (AP)
Reuters | Kuala Lumpur | Posted: March 9, 2014 9:23 pm | Updated: March 10, 2014 11:36 am

Officials investigating the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner with 239 people on board suspect it may have disintegrated in mid-flight, a senior source said Sunday, as Vietnam reported a possible sighting of one of the plane’s doors.

International police agency Interpol confirmed that at least two passports recorded in its database as lost or stolen were used by passengers on the flight, raising suspicions of foul play.

An Interpol spokeswoman said a check of all documents used to board the plane had revealed more “suspect passports” that were being further investigated. She was unable to say how many, or from which country or countries.

Nearly 48 hours after the last contact with Flight MH370, mystery still surrounded its fate. Malaysia’s air force chief said the Beijing-bound airliner may have turned back from its scheduled route before it vanished from radar screens.

Searchers in a low-flying Vietnamese plane spotted what appeared to be a door from the missing jet, the deputy chief of staff of Vietnam’s army, Lt Gen Vo Van Tuan, was quoted as saying by the state-run Thanh Nien newspaper. It was found in waters about 90 km south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday. “From this object, hopefully (we) will find the missing plane,” Tuan said.

“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” a source involved in the investigations in Malaysia told Reuters.

If the plane had plunged intact from close to its cruising altitude, breaking up only on impact with the water, search teams would have expected to find a fairly concentrated pattern of debris, said the source.

Asked about the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play and the aircraft could have broken up due to mechanical causes.

Dozens of military and civilian vessels have been criss-crossing waters beneath the aircraft’s flight path, but have found no confirmed trace of the lost plane, although oil slicks have been reported in the sea south of Vietnam and east of Malaysia.

Late on Sunday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said on its website that a Vietnamese navy plane had spotted an object in the sea suspected of being part of the plane, but that it was too dark to be certain. Search planes were set to return to investigate the suspected debris at daybreak.

“The outcome so far is there is no sign of the aircraft,” Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told reporters. “On the possibility of hijack, we are not ruling out any possibility.”

Malaysian authorities said they were widening the continued…

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