Men with stolen IDs on missing Malaysian jet used stolen Austrian and Italian passports

Men with stolen IDs on missing Malaysian jet not of Asian appearance

Photo: EPA

The two unidentified men who used stolen passports to board the Malaysian airliner that went missing on Saturday were not of Asian appearance, the chief Malaysian investigator said today. Flight MH370 disappeared early on Saturday about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur after climbing to a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.

Interpol confirmed on Sunday at least two passengers had used stolen passports and said it was checking whether others aboard had also used false identity documents.

Debris not from missing Malaysian plane – Vietnam

A floating object previously reported to resemble an overturned liferaft was not part of the Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing over the South China Sea, Vietnamese authorities said Monday.

A Vietnamese navy vessel reached the object around 4 pm (0700 GMT), and found it to be algae-covered debris that had been in the water for some time and not connected to the aircraft, Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of the general staff of the Veitnam People’s Army, told dpa.

In another statement, Malaysian officials said that samples taken from an oil slick off the country’s eastern coast showed it was not from the missing airliner.

“The oil is not used for aircraft,” Maritime Enforcement Agency spokeswoman Faridah Shuib confirmed, adding it was a type used by ships.

The slick, from which the samples were collected, was about 185 kilometres north off Malaysia’s east coast state of Kelantan and just south of the point where air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Investigators examine footage of suspicious passengers on missing Malaysian jet

Malaysian investigators are examining video recordings of two passengers who used stolen passports to board the ill-fated Malaysian Airline passenger jet missing for three days, a senior official said Monday. “The investigative team is now going through all the records, going through all the video footage,” Azhaddin Abdul Rahman, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Authority, said in a press briefing.

Malaysia is considering all angles that might shed light on the fate of the Beijing boundBoeing 777-200, that left Kuala Lumpur International Airport before dawn on Saturday and disappeared from radar screens an hour later. Malaysian Home Minister Zahid Hamidi said on Sunday the two passengers, who reportedly used stolen Austrian and Italian passports, had “Asian facial features”.

“I am still puzzled how come the immigration officers cannot think ‘an Italian and Austrian but with Asian facial features’,” Interior Minister Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying by Bernama, Malaysia’s national news agency.

Asked about this on Monday, Mr Rahman said investigators were still assessing CCTV footage of the passengers checking in for the flight. “We have to get a report from the investigation team. They are doing the investigation,” he said.

He also said that five passengers who checked-in for the flight but did not board, had had their luggage removed and checked. Nothing untoward was found.

Hijacking also could not be ruled out and all possibilities were being investigated concerning why a Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 239 people went missing enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the chief Malaysian investigator said. The investigator said Vietnamese authorities have not confirmed sighting any debris from the plane.

Malaysian Airlines jet may have disintegrated in the air – source

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 on Sunday, as Vietnam reported a possible sighting of wreckage from the plane.

International police agency Interpol confirmed that two passengers on the flight had used stolen Austrian and Italian passports, 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.

Malaysia’s state news agency quoted Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying the passengers using the stolen European passports were of Asian appearance, and criticising border officials who let them through.

“I am still perturbed. Can’t these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian (passport holders) but with Asian faces,” he was quoted as saying late on Sunday.

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.

“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, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the investigation publicly.

Asked about the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play and that 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.

Voice of Russia, Reuters, AFP

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